Nexon, Netmarble and NextFloor have been fined by the Korean Fair Trade Commission for misleading their customers with in-game loot boxes.
According to a report in The Korea Herald, the total value of the penalties and fines was ₩1 billion ($940,000). However, the overwhelming majority of that was meted out to Nexon, which had to pay ₩944.5 million ($888,000), compared to Netmarble's total of ₩60 million ($56,000).
The FTC said that the "Celebrity Count" event in Nexon's Sudden Attack was an example of deceptive practices. In that case, loot boxes were sold to consumers in order to collect 16 puzzle pieces, with each box yielding two pieces in total.
According to the FTC, Nexon promoted the boxes as giving out pieces at random, but the chance of getting some of the pieces was just 0.5 per cent. A single consumer spent ₩460,000 trying to obtain all 16.
Nexon responded to the FTC with the following statement: "In our puzzle event, we used the phrase 'random provision' to suggest the items would be provided at random, and that the odds of obtaining each puzzle piece were different. However, the FTC interpreted the phrase as suggesting equal odds. We plan to work on obtaining an additional review of this issue in the future."
The FTC also found fault with practices in Nexon's Counter Strike Online 2, and Netmarble's Ma9, Monster Taming and Everybody's Marble. Netmarble has issued an apology to the users involved, but would not comment on any plans to challenge the FTC's ruling.