Korea May Ban D3 over Real Money Trading

Fmulder dug up an interesting article from the Korea Times, about the apparent problems Diablo III is going to have getting cleared by that company’s Game Ratings Board. Games can not be sold in Korea without a rating, and another recent title was denied due to a similar real money item selling system.

Thankfully we don’t need translation, since the article is in English.

When does video gaming become gambling? To critics, it is the moment players start spending real money. Blizzard Entertainment, one of the world’s leading video game companies, plans to introduce a real-currency marketplace in Diablo III, the much-awaited second sequel to the megahit series of the same name. In a country where young people play games for hours in “PC bang” or Internet cafes, the prospect of a government approving such a trading platform seems out of the question to many.

…The issue of gambling, illegal for Korean nationals, is a sensitive one, especially after a 2005-06 nationwide scandal over the Sea Story game machines that first passed the regulatory body inspection but were removed after the police discovered excessively speculative and addictive behavior among the players. Due to this controversy, the watchdog and approval committee was created in the Game Rating Board.

…The country’s attitude toward gaming involving cash transactions has irked Blizzard’s local staff who are reluctant to deal with the controversy expected with the introduction of the auction house but are forced by headquarters to launch the feature, an industry source familiar with the matter said.

…“We’ve heard speculation comparing item trading to some form of gambling, but in gambling you’re putting something at risk to win,” said Morhaime. “Items” are won by individual players during the game when they complete a mission. Critics say they come through a randomized selection process, which is based on uncertainty like a card game, but Blizzard says it is a product of the player’s efforts. “(In Diablo III), you’re not risking anything. You’re just investing your time (to win items to sell). It is an important distinction.”

This issue came up during recent podcasts about the Real Money Auction House and Diablo III’s economy, and in both instances no one took the “finding a good item you can sell for $ = gambling” argument seriously. As Morhaime said in the quote, a key element of gambling is that you’re risking something for a potential payoff. Unless someone can argue that your purchase price (or hourly fees, in Korean baangs), or the time you spend finding items = paying to gamble, and that’s a pretty tenuous argument.

Obviously the Korean game rating board might feel differently, and you have to wonder how that will impact Blizzard’s profit projections in that market, if they have to strip out the RMAH in Korea. Also, might this set a precedent for other countries less accommodating to online gambling-like activities?

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98 thoughts on “Korea May Ban D3 over Real Money Trading

  1. 1:) Anyone complaining of “Chinese” farmers can see now what might happen in china.
    2:) Anyone in Korea has my sympathy over this.
    3:) Trust me you don’t wanna move there

  2. True predator, have you ever been to Korea? Korea is great. And those PC bangs are awesome 😉
    I like the fact, that there might be countries not just sucking real money in a digital world concepts.
    Let’s see what happens.

      • Obviously.. money talks.. but if the alternative is a complete ban = 0 copies sold, then that doesnt excactly make Blizz a lot of money either. Besides this may never come to this if Blizz can convince the koreans that the Diablo item game isnt considered gambling, and hence not violating the Korean laws.

        A side question, will D3 allow players from one region (say people in asia) to play on Europe servers?

        • As far as I can remember, Diablo 3 will be region locked just like StarCraft 2 was. This may have changed and I missed it though so best to check up on that eh?

    • well thats a obvious solution – if Rmah is banned in korea – i`ll try to play there 😛

      i wish they would ban it in germany too :p

      say whatever you want but blizzard will hardly cancel the game for an entire region just because Rmah is considered illegal for whatever reason.

      “Which regions will have currency-based auction house support?
      We plan to roll out the currency-based version of the auction house in as many regions as possible with the launch of Diablo III. In regions where the currency-based auction house will not be available, players will still have access to a gold-based auction house. We’ll share more details in the future. “

  3. Can someone confirm if bidding in DIII works like ebay, i.e. you don’t get charged unless you win the item. There can only be one winner on an item, and you pay at the end of that automatically I assume, so I can’t see what the Koreans are fussing about, unless their gov wants to track Korean internet SN’s or whatever they’re called. /rant/ Loss of players from their own mmo’s RMT’s maybe? Maybe they should hurry up and release their games over in the UK then. /endofrant/ This bidding takes place on Blizzard’s hopefully secure server’s, so there is no gambling because you pay for the item if you’re the winner. You are buying an item, not playing to win, it as simple as that. Think of it like a micro trade with a ticker. Gambling is designed so you have incrediably slim chance at winning where you have to put money into something to play first, I doubt DIII will do the bid process like that.

    • There are flat fees for listing items (though players get some number of free listings) and for completed sales, and then additional fees (vary by region) for transferring Bobby Bucks™ into real money.

      You misunderstand the gambling claim. The legality of the gambling issue isn’t about bidding in the AH. It’s the RMAH that makes the rest of the game gambling, since in a game with built in support for RMT, item finding becomes gambling, since certain items are worth considerable $$$.


      At least in the eyes of some legal scholars.

      • Flux and you ask yourself w hy they didnt invite you to the press event. With every comment you make it is obvious you still didnt getover that. Bobby this, Booby that. Who cares about Bobby man.

        Real money AH is here and its good thing. Who wants to use it let em use it, they would use d2jsp anyway. And I can bet that most of the players who made comment about how they wont use it ever, will use it constantly.

        • How many people bought items in D3? I can count them with my fingers. There wasn’t enough item buyers to justify the inclusion of the real money bullshit. Unfortunately everyone became blind after Blizzard said people can profit from the item selling (lol, ok, good luck).

          Besides people buying power with money the second worst part of the RMAH is that you must pay Blizzard even if your auction was not successful. Blizzard said they will most likely give players a flat ammount of free auctions and after that you are on your own. If all your auctions fail, and the chance of that will be high since there will be millions of offers, you will have to start spending real money even if you didn’t want to. If  Blizzard charged a % of the selling instead of a fee for each auction them people that don’t want to spend money could trade their items for bobby coins, preventing them from being excluded from the only market that will matter, the real money one.

          And about flux not being invited is just because he don’t like to lick Blizzard’s balls. Just look at diablofans and battlenet forums, you can’t find a tiny little critic in them. Are you sure Diablo 3 is so perfect like that??

          As for me I hate the RMAH enough to make me not buy the game, even after spending the last 3 year reading news about D3. I’m glad there are ubber hackers out there so I’ll just have to wait a little longer than you to play the game.

  4. You know, I really wish governments would get the **** out of people’s lives. Governments exist to protect our rights and serve us – not tell us what we can do with our own money. This is a violation of human rights.

    If someone wants to spend their hard-earned money on items within a video game, it is THEIR DAMN CHOICE – not some bureaucrat who “knows best” (and believe me, they rarely ever do know what is best, always ****ing everything up and making it worse).

    When are people going to learn that prohibition, anti-gambling laws, etc. are not even the responsibility of government and that they actually make problems worse, not better. I don’t feel all better inside knowing that part of my tax money would be going towards prosecuting people for buying items in Diablo 3.

    So let me get this straight – you steal more money from me in order to pay for the bureaucrats to enforce these stupid anti-Diablo 3 laws (which is a violation of my rights – property rights to be more specific), and then you further violate other people’s right to choose what they want to do with their own money!

    It just sounds like a power grab – human beings that just want to get off telling people how to live their lives and what they can and can’t do with their own ****ing money.

    What a joke.

    • This is why Anelka, though I have no doubt there PC bangs are a blast and awesome to be at, there is a difference between visiting and living in Korea.

    • “Governments exist to protect our rights and serve us – not tell us what we can do with our own money.”
      Whose money exactly is supposed to fund these governments’ efforts to protect your rights and serve you?

  5. Awwwww YEAH!!!!!!!!! Eat that Kotick, you stupid greedy piece of shit!!!!!!
    I hope this could open a precedent and make all countries do the same, but unfortunately this won’t happen =/

    • If they remove the RMAH from the Korean version of D3 maybe I’ll buy the game if its possible to change the realm. I’ll play with a large latency but what the hell, I can live with that.
      I agree that most players won’t loose anything in the AH, they will just sell the items they find, but can Blizzard assure that a good portion of players won’t start buying and selling items just like in the stock market? And at least in the place I live minors are not allowed to make such type of transactions.

      • How naive can you be Synchrotron ?

        Did you run around in Diablo 2 too, and thought people never bought realmoney items there either?
        Trust me, people will go to 3rd part sites to trade if the rating dont allow Blizzard to handle the trades.

        • The question is, what makes anybody think they won’t go to 3rd party sites even WITH the RMAH?
          Between the up front charges and sales fees and transaction fees, I would be surprised if there aren’t entrepreneurs who can sell items cheaper than players will have to charge on the RMAH just to cover their listing expenses :p

  6. As an American expat currently living in China, I’m really wondering what–if any–bastardized form of the game will be available here.

    • I remember reading China making a huge deal about “naked” skeletons and zombies in the WotlK expansion for WoW to the extent that Blizzard almost never released it and later had to patch all the “naked” skeletons to have clothes on. Don’t know how this will reflect on D3 but fighting rainbow unicorns instead of monsters sounds like a possibility for you unfortunately =P.

      • Ohhhhh! I remember that! Something about the skeleton being seen on the joints on the undead race was one I heard of.

        I think it would make for an interesting joke viral email – goverments and the ridiculous decisions they make to ‘protect’ their people.

      • Yeah, I remember that. Wasn’t actually playing WoW at the time. The censors here do get a bit… whimsical… sometimes. Or just plain nutty. Thus, despite the fact that probably all of the Chinese native MMORPGs are monetized in all sorts of ways, you never really know what’s going to set off “the powers that be”.
        Just as long as they don’t accidentally mistake The Butcher for Mao Zedong….

  7. Logic fail.  This assumes that 100% of Koreans will not be doing marathon runs of Starcraft II 100% of the time.

    • Your logic is fail. They are not concerned about how much time gamers spend playing. They are concerned about the way their citizens will spend their money in something they believe is gambling. There is no option to spend money in Starcraft after you bought the game (except for those crappy limited versions that Blizzard offered for some countries).
      A little example of what the Korean authorities MIGHT find wrong :
      Hmmmm I found a nice item,  should I spend 50 cents (fictional value) to create an auction risking to lose them in case I can’t find a buyer in 2 days?

  8. the soloution is simple and obvious. remove RMT from the game for koreans. 

    the koreans already have their own battlenet realm for starcraft 2, so it is likely they will also have one for diablo 3. therefore RMT can easily be removed from the korean battlenet server and the game will not be banned..

    to be honest, fuck the RMT anyway. its just a greedy move by blizzard, koreans are kinda lucky in a way if their game doesnt get it.

  9. Removing RMT would make me more likely to buy & enjoy the game.
    Seriously, two of the biggest “enhancements” over D2 are things I really don’t want.  RMT and the *absolute requirement* to be online to play.

  10. On the topic of RMT, I wonder if Blizzard has considered how it will affect the general tone of players online.
    For example, are we going to be seeing more of the following?
    Veteran Player: You stoopid [email protected]#$ing noob.  WTF are you doing?
    New Player: Sorry, I didn’t know I was supposed to <whatever>
    Veteran Player: Now we missed a BOSS DROP.  You probably cost me $25 you stoopid @#$#@
    Wow – sounds fun and inviting.

        • Costed an drop how? An item either drops or it don’t don’t matter how noob the team mates are, if it drops it yours.
          The worse thing a noob can do in D3 is create a wipe out of the team, in which case the noob will normally die first anyway. Anyway why would the Vet be worried anyway unless he playing Hardcore? In which case there shouldn’t be any noobs and there always escape quit.

          Oops replied to wrong post oh well

    • Except that “$25” was never the vet’s anyway….  only the slim possibility of a chance of a maybe getting $25.  Don’t see this being a major issue.  Maybe I’m naive.

    • what could a player do to cause others to miss a boss drop ?

      except be a lousy player that causes others to get killed ?
      but so what ?
      this isn’t am mmo where bosses only show up once every 12 hours and you have to have complete a series of puzzles/tasks to make the boss show up

      • I don’t know, since I am not in the beta.  However, one possible example … We’ve read that you don’t get a boss drop if you are not ‘nearby’ when the boss dies.  What if right when the killing blow is dealt to the boss the ‘newb’ kills the D3 equivalent of a Fire-Enchanted mini-boss that explodes & kills everyone.  Boss drop gone.

        My point, though, is that people become a lot more serious/surly/short-tempered when money is involved.  It is hard enough to foster a good ‘team’ environment in online games when no money is on the line.

        • ^ Yes but in this case the ‘Vet’ dont deserve any drops as he the real noob.
          I mean the only way this will happen is if the ‘vet’ runs off and leaves the ‘noob’ alone and he solo kills it. Or if the ‘vet’ does something stupid and dies in which case again he the real noob.

    • I think there certainly is a possibility that D3 will become like Wow and it’s dungeons. Rather than having fun and taking your time in killing monsters, people will to optimize their dungeon runs. This means no failing and no talking, just playing and getting through as fast as possible.

      Once when doing an instance run in Wow, I told some jokes and I was actually told to shut up for slowing others down by writing. That is not how I wish D3 will be like…

  11. What’s really funny about this is Korea is the KING when it comes to microtransactions, and virtual items bought with real currency. Almost all of their online games have systems like that.

    So it’s really boggling, why D3’s real money trade would be considered “gambling”. I think the Korean game reviewers are confused about the randomization aspects… gambling is about risk, there’s no risk at all with D3. You can’t ever LOSE money. It’s not like the items you buy from D3 have a 25% chance of disappearing once bought, or something like that. It makes no sense.

    • Yea.  It’s not like you can post a lot of items and be charged for them, and then people can then either not by them or undercut you.  That’s not losing money is it?

      • But you aren’t losing the money to get the items… you are being charged a fee to list them… significant difference…

      • So paying for a service in order to get market exposure in an online auction is called “gambling” now, huh?

        I guess paying a lawyer to fight lawsuits is called gambling too, since there’s no guarantee that either your lawyer or the opposing lawyer can win the case. Guess by state mandate, we should make lawyers illegal too.

        Oh, that doctor that you paid a check-up for couldn’t find anything wrong with you? Gambling. You say that surgery might not be able to save to fix that guy’s medical condition 100%? GAMBLING! Doctors should be illegal.

        What you’re saying I might get lost while driving? Therefore some of that extra gas I bought was USELESS!? Shit, we better make cars illegal.

        What I got a blackout!? WTF? Better make house-hold electricity illegal as well.

  12. Korea? Of all places? It’s like the heart of the world as far as the gaming industry, esports, and all related money around it it centered O.O. And, well, in the ‘worst’ case, Blizzard will just exclude the rmah in Korea as they are doing for hardcore mode everywhere else in the world; not a big technical thing to do.

    edit: and but yeah, while I am not completely against the RMAH, I’d rather the game not have it so people don’t need to agonize over trying to sell every last thing that drops, and everyone will have a more equal footing and chances at getting stuff vs time played.

  13. I hope blizzard is forced to remove the RMAH part because of this, it was a bad idea to begin with. Noone should be able to pay to win.

  14. Am I the only one who likes the RMAH? I mean shit, I couldn’t give a fuck what other players do with it (abuse it to get better gear, make a living from it, etc). I’m not interested in buying from it, but I’m interested in trying my hand at selling stuff on it. What’s the big issue? Don’t like it. Don’t use it.

  15. “(In Diablo III), you’re not risking anything. You’re just investing your time (to win items to sell). It is an important distinction.”

    BS! We know there are mandatory real money taxes for posting items on RMAH. Which are lost money if the item doesn’t sell. If that’s not gambling, i don’t know what is.

    • Just a bad idea, IMO.  A cash grab by Blizzard to help fund a game that took 5 years too long to come out.  Explained away as an aid to those who were buying items in other ways.

    • Hahaha, what? First of all, if it doesn’t sell you won’t be paying taxes. Second, you don’t have to report your income to the IRS especially if you aren’t making bank. Unless you mean the surcharge fee from Blizzard (that is not a tax btw), in which case you know you get to post several free items a week right? Most of us will never see that charge.
      I’m going to go ahead and say you don’t know what gambling is.

      • ” First of all, if it doesn’t sell you won’t be paying taxes.”
        Peeeeeeeeeeeeeh!!! Wrong… You pay a tax for each auction you create, no matter if managed to sell your item or not.

  16. it might not be gambling, but RMAH is still gonna suck a whole lot of money out of those korean game addicts.

  17. The first problem of this article is that it compares Diablo III RMAH to foreign micro-trans games that have a 2 year life.

    You’re not buying a chance to upgrade your Windforce. You’re just buying your Windforce. Money for product. No chance involved. Now, with other games like Battle of the Immortals – yes. It’s just pure gambling any way you put it. You may as well use your money as confetti.

    • How about buying magic find items? That is gambling. Plain and simple. THINK. THINK FOR ONE FUCKING SECOND.

      • Wait, wait wait. Are you seriously saying what I think you just said? And you just told me to think? You’re saying that buying a product that has a statistic that can help you treasure find better equates to gambling? That item is static. That stat is static. You will have a persistent % increase mf in every game for as long as you wear that item. How is that transaction in any way gambling?

        You just paid money for a product – that is persistent in every way shape and form. Perhaps when you’ve played pretty much any foreign CS F2P MMO, you’ll understand the difference. You aren’t clicking on a bag that may or may not yield you something valuable for 75 cents a pop – and of infinite supply from the developer.

        If you need examples of gambling CS items take a look here:

        Until then, I bid you adieu.

  18. It’s totally gambling.  It’s no-risk gambling, but it’s still gambling.
    Tonight I’m going to farm Diablo 3 for 5 hours.  I could make $750 from this or $7.50.  Or more.  Or less.  It all depends on what drops.  And what doesn’t.
    That’s gambling.  I could theoretically have a job that pays $20 an hour but instead, I’m playing Diablo 3 for a POTENTIAL outcome of $50 an hour but also a POSSIBLE outcome of $.50 an hour.  I could be forsaking my job for a gamble.
    Me personally, I will only sell on the AH, never buy, and I’ll only play as much as I would’ve anyway.  But a country that makes gambling illegal, I can understand their stance.

    • Sorry, but gambling means putting money up front with the risk of losing it. If you don’t stand to lose money then you cannot really be gambling. There are lots of activities where you don’t know how much you will earn (paint a picture, sculpt, sell things door to door) that isn’t classified as gambling.

      • How about first purchasing items in the hope that they will help you produce more items that you will be able to sell for profit. That is putting money up front and potentially losing/winning after that.

    • @Thort – Interesting. What you call gambling, I call playing the game. Wait, you’ve been doing treasure-hunting games wrong this entire time?

      What you just described is opportunity cost.

  19. nice. this will open the gates to the removal of rmah and the introduction of the subscription monthly fee, like wow, because “the game is a server client architecture and to maintain our servers without rmah we will require monthly fees”
    everything going as planned
    i will be just here laughing, while playing the superior path of exile

  20. And this might be the begining of the end for the RMAH. No way Asia is going to allow this. Asia owns Blizzard because that is where the majority of their player base is. Whatever Asia wants, they get. Blizzard will have no choice but to remove the RMAH.

  21. It was frowned upon by many in D2 and it will be in D3 as well. (as should be obvious given the amount of controversy over it) In D2 I almost exclusively played with people I knew for a fact didn’t spend money on items, and we’d often even make new characters and limit ourselves to what we find as we play. (no trading or tweaking in other words) That was D2 in it’s prime for me, and whether through a guild or just finding like minded people on the forums or in game, I intent to do the same in D3.

    • If Diablo was just a coop game that would be enough for me as well, but there is the PvP factor, and I like to PvP. I don’t want to get pwned in the arenas just because some rich guy spent 1000+ dollars in items (and I’m not being exaggerated with that amount).
      I can accept casual players buying high end gears because they don’t have much time to play, but the current system will also greatly benefit hardcore players as well. And I completely disagree about people being able to buy the BEST item in the game with real money.

      • Trust me I agree with you, I like PvP too and I even liked to PK and PKK every once in a while in D2, but I did so mostly with items me and my friends found and shared. I  have to say mostly because I did have to trade for some essential stuff, mostly runewords, which were most likely dupes, but with the runes at such low drop rates it was an evil you had to accept to a point if you wanted to be competitive at high levels. But I never EVER bought anything with real money and I was still able to compete.
        In D3 the only items I’m really worried about in terms of the RMAH are gems. If you have enough people who are willing to share drops the item game becomes a lot easier in the long run but the higher tier gems are still going to be a problem, and if they give big enough bonuses people who buy them on the RMAH are going to have an advantage over people who don’t, especially early on.

    • Play hardcore and nobody can use the RMAH, or continue to just play with friends like you did before. The thing is, I would rather play with people who bought their items than people who hacked them. People could still buy items in D2, it was just done off-site. If hacking is prevented it is well worth it!

      • Yea I don’t want to tell anybody how to play their game, but that is how I want to play and I know I’m not the only one who’s anti-RMT.
        And I am going to play hardcore too but probably not exclusively, maybe eventually depending on how it goes but I’ll have to play before I can decide on that.

      • Sure!! Lets play hardcore to lose years of work because you were disconnected from the game in the middle of an arena match.
        Trust me my dear fanboy, there will be hacks in Diablo 3, all games have. and now more than ever people will be tempted to hack  because of the RMAH. WoW for example has thousands of botters and its a game with montly fees that in theory was supposed to prevent cheating. Now imagine how things will be in D3 where people can actually win money and not just use bots just to level up like in WoW.

        • Good point.  The ability to earn $$ with bots ensures that they will be developed and used.  Will lower the cost of rare items I guess due to oversupply I guess.

  22. Ouch! If it comes true, Blizzard has to do something. That is going to kill their revenue… think of all those players…

  23. I think the obvious solution is to let Korean Players only create hardcore characters, because hardcore is projected to not have a RMAH.

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