Diablo III battles South Korean ratings board

Local paper points to new auction house features as the issue for Blizzard

The South Korean release of Diablo III is in trouble after failing to receive approval from the country's Game Rating Board.

A report from The Korea Times suggests that the game's use of real currency, allowing players to buy and sell goods, is to blame.

"Committee members are conflicted about what to do with Diablo 3 because of Blizzard's information on the game's 'auction house' feature," said the South Korean Game Rating Board spokesman.

The game was resubmitted before Christmas with the real currency feature removed, but is still waiting for approval.

"As it is described in the resubmission, committee members are still reluctant."

The issue could cause problems for Blizzard, who hoped for a simultaneous worldwide release for the massive MMO.

"In principle, we are always committed to a global release," a Blizzard spokesperson told the newspaper.

Blizzard has yet to commit to a release date beyond Q1 2012.

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Latest comments (10)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
A normal player will never find an item that is worth anything, because there will be far too many Chines goldfarmers grinding out the rarer stuff and flooding the market with it. Even those 10% of the players who play ten times as much as the average will not find items rare enough to earn more than a tip.

The auction house means you compete on a global scale and nobody in his right mind should value his time at the same price as a Chinese wage slave. Once this reality sinks in with the Koreans, the game is good to go.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 6 years ago
I think it is all about the Blizzard's money here. They take a cut from each transaction. On the other side of things, South Korea might have laws that are against people (maybe under age) of making such transactions, but the fact that it was resubmitted with the features cut off is a good sign Blizzard is committed to launch the game on time.
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Byoung Han Programmer 6 years ago
I just hope students wont end up being item farmer for money.
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Patrick McCarthy Lead Automation Engineer, Humana6 years ago
@Byoung Han Don't worry, the Chinese boys and girls will never see the inside of a school, so they're not going to be students...
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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations6 years ago
I know it's all about money, but shouldn't Blizzard set up a "farm detection" system, and finally do something morally right for a change?
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Min Hong Journalist, Thisisgame.com6 years ago
My opinion is that it is not about Goldfarming. Exchanging virtual goods to real money through the auction house is the key. Even though it is very common in Korea, it is 'Officially' not allowed. Therefore, If D3 is out with the real money trading and the rating board allows it, it means Korean government admits real money trading 'Officially'. If it happens, it could change the whole online game business environment.

Plus, Korean government is not friendly at all toward the game industry now. That's another concern.
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Eddie In Project Manager, Ndoors6 years ago
Adding to what Min just said this is definitely not about Chinese gold farming. The fact that people invest time and money to acquire virtual assets in MMORPGs is received very differently in Korea/China than it is in the rest of the world. It is common practice to sell your assets on 3rd party online marketplaces like ItemBay and ItemMania. There is even a court precedent that ruled that users possess some ownership of the items they work to obtain - meaning these virtual assets are not sole property of developer/publishers as stated in the EULA.

This is not about the Korean government trying to prevent the exploitation (or honest labor) of gold farmers, Chinese or otherwise. The issue is that Blizzard with their Auction House is trying to integrate the function of the 3rd party marketplaces into their game. There is a CRAP-TON of cash going through that marketplace and yet it really is VERY easy for the major Korean publishers to do what Blizzard is planning (they had the capability years ago). However, the ultra-conservative nature of Korean culture tries to pretend that this business does not exist and that games should be kept "innocent" for the "sake of the children" and . Nevermind that the Ratings Board is in direct contradiction with the legal precendent set by the Supreme Court of Korea a few years back.

In short, its a moral hazard thing meanwhile they let it go on with 3rd parties.

There is another theory that suggests that the Ratings Board has been anti-Blizzard (read anti-foreign gaming giant threatening their local publishers). Not that Nexon or NCSoft is lobbying the Board, the Korean government tends to be protectionist because that's how they view their job should be done.

Either admit that this business is real and tax it. Or ban it entirely. Either way - I want to the beta to open!!!
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Emily Rose Freelance Artist 6 years ago
Klaus that's not how Diablo works, the time you grind has no bearing on the rarity of the items you get, it's completely random.
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Charlie Cheong6 years ago
One of the biggest social problems faced by the Korean government is that of gaming addiction. The delay could be due to extra consideration by the GRB, on possible impact when players (especially the youths) spend hours grinding for rare loot.

I believe that on a smaller part, the GRB is also mindful of the economic impact on their game industry if Diablo III is cleared for release. Will Diablo III take away a significant share of the Korea online games' player base?
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Eddie In Project Manager, Ndoors6 years ago
The issue on the table is whether or not Diablo III gets an 18+ or a 19+ rating. It's a given that the game will be given at least 18+ due to the violent content. However, a 19+ rating for gambling will put a very taboo spin on the game's image making it the social equivalent to porn. In this situation, any worries by the government regarding youth gaming addiction should be moot because they shouldn't be playing the game anyway.

The jury is also out on whether or not Diablo 3 will gain a lot of traction in Korea. Starcraft 2 did okay but far below expectations in the market that pretty much redefined Starcraft as an e-sport. The first Starcraft is still the sport that people follow here. There are a lot of diehard Diablo fans but a lot of people are making the same sort of comments on how the more mainstream third installment isn't a worthy successor to the series. Moreover, as far as I know Blizzard still hasn't totally figured out business model given the prevalence of internet cafes in Korea.

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