Nexon promise full disclosure of probabilities of random game items
Korea’s largest game publisher Nexon embarked on fully disclosing probabilities of random game items, Friday.
“We will share information for all random items and introduce a real-time monitoring system [...] open to our users,” the company said in a statement.
“The policy will be implemented on all of our main online and mobile games, starting from MapleStory.”
The announcement is the latest development in domestic gamers’ request for more transparency. A game feature that particularly came into question is loot boxes, or random boxes — a common feature in games where users pay to draw items like weapons or armor.
In a self-regulatory move, game publishers have voluntarily shared the probabilities for several loot boxes since 2015. But gamers questioned the credibility of the disclosures, sometimes accusing the publishers of arbitrarily changing percentages.
Loot boxes have also become more complicated over the years, going beyond the simple format of granting one prize per draw. For example, some games would make users draw from two loot boxes to win a single item — one free and one paid for — and only disclose the winning probability for the paid draw.
Such features drew criticism that game publishers were intentionally bending their own rules and led to calls from gamers that random boxes be regulated by law.
Nexon’s announcement promises disclosure that goes beyond self-regulatory efforts — sharing the probabilities of all loot box items, whether they are drawn once or are granted through a combination of multiple draws.
The company faced fierce criticism earlier this year due to an announcement from MapleStory, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. A notice to users last month said one random box feature in the game would be fixed to realize “the same probability” for all items. This expression earned backlash as users asked if the probabilities until now had not been consistent.
“The level of attention and expectations society has on Nexon and our games has changed and yet, even I wasn’t fully aware of it,” said Nexon CEO Lee Jung-hun in a message addressed to company employees, Friday.
“From today, we will start work to reform games under the principle of disclosing transparent information to our users.”
Nexon also pledged to set up a monitoring system that shows real-time probability for random items and upgrades inside the game, which users will have access to. Any signs of irregular action will be spotted by the system, the company added. The implementation is aimed to take place this year.
It remains to be seen whether the industry leader’s move will influence its smaller peers in the industry.
Lawmakers have already embarked on legislating a new bill that would force companies to disclose details of random game items. A long list of reforms to the Game Industry Promotion Act, was submitted for review by the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee on Feb. 24.
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [email@example.com]