Korea to Ban Online Game Item Sales & Bots

You may remember the rating fiasco for Diablo 3 in Korea where  Blizzard got the game approved by the rating board with the RMAH removed. The latest news from Korea is that the government will be banning the trade for commercial game items and the new law will be revealed by the  Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism next month

Using bots to farm will also be illegal in Korea under the new law, and if the law is broken, perpetrators could face a 50 million won fine or even  a maximum of five years in jail.  Kim Kap-soo, head of the ministry’s content policy division added:

“The main purpose of the games is for entertainment and should be used for academic and other good purposes”

The new law will be a blow to Blizzard if they had any plans of trying to get the RMAH up and running in Korea, but based on  all the problems they had with the rating board, they probably threw in the towel a long time ago.

Source: The Korean Times via IncGamers.com

Should all Governments forbid videogame developers developing any games that allow item sales for real money?

  • No (54%, 1,482 Votes)
  • Yes (46%, 1,246 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,728

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    78 thoughts on “Korea to Ban Online Game Item Sales & Bots

    1. I see nothing at all absolutely wrong with the Korean decision. Games should be for fun, not a way to supplement your income and further lining a game developers pockets.

          • I probably won’t use the RMAH because I fear it’ll kill the essence of D3 for me. Not for others clearly and that’s fine too.

            You need to push aside your personal feelings about Diablo 3 in relation to the RMAH for a second. Is this really a good thing? A good call? This is a freedom of choice being taken away, it’s not set out to save the integrity of videogames — keep ’em pure — make no mistake the impetus behind this isn’t the integrity of game design.

            Why should all videogames be entertainment and academic only, why can’t there be an element of commerce integrated, if the game is designed with that mind? They certainly aren’t qualified to assess whether a game is designed to integrate commerce and indeed they are not attempting to make judgements on a game by game basis here. This is a carpet ban. You will NOT. End of.

            This is definitely not a good move. It’s oppressive and that’s never good.

            • People are understandably touchy about their freedoms (particularly in the states) but who has the right to bot, and can you unequivocally state that they do? I doubt it.

              I think of it the same way as legislation on gambling in certain countries.

            • I don’t personally see a difference because, as I said below this post, botting is part of the illicit item selling market. It creates real-world social conditions that are not very favorable, to put it mildly, when it is formulated into a business.

              I just keep in mind that different country/different culture, and I’ve yet to see any specifics about this legislation. South Korea is one of the gaming capitals of the world and it’s something that needs to be looked at with a critical, serious eye.

            • So you read the press release as only banning the illicit sale of items? I read it as banning the RMAH.

        • to the poll my answer is YES! YES! YES! (I hate D-Bryan but I find it here most appropriate), otherwise every new game and developer from there on out will be a Diablo 3 Actiblizzard clone, caring more about collecting fees from your every pore than making a quality long-lasting title that makes a great impression on every level.

          and the ad at the bottom of the page talks about 95% of erection problems…..go figure

        • as we know humans mostly arent very intelligent – just look at the world … so… yes we do

      • Except this is an all too common occurrence with regards to fair trade in asian countries. Such as when baseball gained massive popularity in japan, sports team owners purchased 100,000 louisville sluggers but then refused to accept the bats that were brought to their shores citing a ‘new rule’ that demanded a certain diameter bat to be used in professional sports. When L.S. offered to shave off the difference in diameter for them, they said they don’t want the bats but would accept them if given a substantial discount. There’s always some ‘new rule’.

      • “I see nothing at all absolutely wrong with the Korean decision.”

        Here’s what is wrong with Korean government decision:

        They are taking decisions for their own people. Government does not need, and cannot act like, someone’s parent. I don’t need someone to enforce me to not spend money on a computer game just because they think I shouldn’t.

        And what is wrong is, you may agree with them this time, but next time your daddy tells you you can’t do something and you disagree, you’re still going to have to obey.

        With freedom comes responsibility. If you don’t mind losing your freedom “here and there” so someone else takes the trouble to enforce you to be responsible that is your problem.

        It’s not this decision specifically that is wrong, it’s the moral hazard behind the power governments have to do stuff like this.

        • That’s dumb.

          Governments are set in place TO TAKE DECISIONS IN THE PLACE OF THEIR PEOPLE.

          SK’s government has every legal and moral right to take this decision, and if it was taken for financial reasons, I agree with them. It is important to restrict the consumer’s expenses in some segments of the market that assume themselves as predominantly expensive and risk taking out the other segments due to the technicalities of our economy.

          In other words, the government should entice videogamers to spend their money evenly across the market, when they so wish.

      • How you guys think the government making decisions is better for the people than us making the decisions is beyond me.

      • That’s one of the main reasons why I hate players these days, they are all hypocrites. If Blizzard decided to sell items on their own everyone would rage, but after Blizzard lied making player’s believe they would make easy money by selling items suddenly all of these players changed their minds, because it’s okay for them to exploit the item selling, but not the big bad company.

        I’m not saying it’s impossible to make money from D3 just by selling items exclusively on the RMAH, but the percentage of players that have the skill/time/intelligence/etc to do that is less than 1%. Now if a player suddenly changes his mind about item selling because he’s not making a single penny it will be already to late to revert the situation. Blizzard won! (In that aspect only, because in all others it failed epically) 😆

        Korea 2 x 0 Blizzard x -10 Derp players

      • You people that think that governments should ban the sale of digital goods in games have a bizarre view of the scope of proper government power. Why should the government even have authority over that? What of individual freedom, choice and the like?

    2. “The main purpose of the games is for entertainment and should be used for academic and other good purposes”

      Perhaps the most profound statement I’ve ever heard from a government. I applaud this 100%.

      Finally, someone “GETS IT”.

      IMO, the business side of gaming should END with the purchase of the game. Anything after that is just pure greed and is a detriment to gaming in general.

        • Agreed. The nanny state deciding on this is asinine, and is a slippery slope if I have ever heard of one.

          I do think that botting sucks – it is absurd to think the Korean government can do squat about it. It’s like it’s 1999 and we are talking about anti-piracy enforcement again.

          There are thousands of goods and services that fall under the category of “entertainment” and collect fees beyond the initial purchase through a spectrum of mechanisms.

          Of course everyone that hates RMAH is going to side with Korea. I’ll keep on padding out my Paypal account, so I really don’t care.

      • I fear that if a company is only allowed to make profits from game sales then the quality of games to come is on a slippery slope. Times have changed. Companies are no longer making the profits they need to justify the development cost of a game from sales alone and they have piracy, patches and ongoing server maintainance costs to consider. I think it is essential for the games industry to explore other avenues of income generation, whether they be subscription fees, FTP micro-transactions or RMAH percentage fees. If it ensures the continued release of high-quality games for years to come then ultimately the games companies have to make money somehow.

      • Congratulations to the illicit companies that will sell diablo 3 gold in Korea outside of the safe trade of the RMAH, and from overseas where Korean law can’t touch them, this is a big win for them.

    3. Hopefully such a stance will spread, quite a rotten culture of such trading currently.

    4. So basically if I want to play a RMAH free d3 I have to either move to Korea or play HC.

      Way to go blizzard.

        • him not using it does not make D3 free of it. having a RMAH effects all other forms of trading in the game

      • @ ael

        Yeah, as if real money trading in D2 didn’t affect all other forms of trading in the game… everything was pure and all that 🙄

    5. I guess it’s a good move but people will go elsewhere to sell their items. This didn’t solve anything. Also, I don’t get the “botting is illegal” thing. I agree that bots ruin the game but is that the government’s responsibility to dictates what is and isn’t allowed to do in games? It’s like saying that using the ‘ABACABB’ trick in MK is illegal… it just doesn’t make sense.

      • I would say that ABACABB is more akin to the Komani Code than to bots, seeing as it was programmed in by the developer rather than a violation of the Terms of Service.

        Criminal penalties for this particular violation do seem a bit harsh, though.

      • ” is that the government’s responsibility to dictates what is and isn’t allowed to do in games?”

        It’s clearly written in the EULA and ToS for every game with an online component that it’s restricted, so I can’t see anyone really having a problem with this.

          • Because it’s obviously an issue of enforcement. There’s actually quite a few negative social impacts from botting. I’m talking real-world impacts, as someone above me hinted to. Ask a Chinese gold farmer how great their life and job is.

            A nation has to take care of its people. If a company like Blizzard can’t do anything about botting (and they can’t) then it’s going to have to be up to someone else.

            • There’s nothing wrong with the ban on botting, although the possibility of felony-level penalties is surprising.

            • Botting goes hand in hand with illicit item sales. People speak as if there is no connection, but obviously there is, as per this legislation.

            • I don’t disagree vis-a-vis illicit sales! I’m just saying I would not send someone to prison for five years over this.

            • I don’t think the life of a Chinese gold farmer would become better if he actually ended up with no job.

            • Some Chinese gold farmers are actually people in jail forced to play video games (when you have to do it so much you have barely time to sleep, I don’t think it’s fun anymore). So yes, losing their “job” would probably be an improvement for them…

    6. I think many of you might be missing another facet of this legislation. Gold and item trading has become an industry in some parts of the world and is legitimately compared to the sweatshops that people so rightfully demonise. It isn’t just a matter of people independently running bots on their own, they are actual companies with dozens, if not hundreds, of employees. These companies do not use bots for the simple fact that they run the risk of the bots being disabled, so they use real players instead. Far from the “gamer’s dream” of being paid to play a game, they are paid to farm the same area over and over all day every day and are paid a couple of dollars for their efforts. Imagine doing the equivalent of a Pindle run non-stop for 10 hours a day and getting paid $1 an hour for it.

      It will be interesting to see just what this law applies to. The MMO industry has been moving towards a free-to-pay micro-transaction model for a long time now and this often goes beyond area content to include items. Will Turbine be banned from selling cosmetic clothing and horses in Lord of the Rings Online? Will NCSoft be banned from selling cosmetic clothing in Guild Wars? What about item DLC for games?

      • I do agree that this industry is growing quite fast and is becoming a problem. But I don’t think that it is 100% Blizzard’s fault. If this goes through, it shouldn’t apply only to D3 but to all games. Any remuneration through in game item selling should be banned in general.

        At least with the RMAH, Blizzard was making a stand against all these reselling sites by trying to control and oversee all the transaction. They recently (re)-added the cap on the number of games you could create in a certain amount of time. Maybe they should use the same model on the number of transactions people can make through the RMAH so people couldn’t abuse it. But then again, they may just go elsewhere to sell.

        I just don’t think blaming Blizzard for a problem the is bigger than Blizzard is fair. I just hope that this applies to every game.

        • This is not a Blizzard-restricted legislation, it’s going to apply to ALL games…

    7. What about al those poor goldfarmers who will loose their job :o.

      I can only agree with this law :d

    8. and im gona comment on that like this, pips complain about high teer items being sell for cash , aparently dont have money in real life , ther for they will be not able to buy it for cash , so the expect money trading for cash being baned , so they can us curency in the game , thats only true to be told to all of you above , qq and see ya in game trols 😉

      • And then there’s the minimally exceptional who have no idea what’s going on, but comment anyway, of course.

    9. How is D3 unlike any other recreational sport or pastime? Buying gear in D3 is like buying clubs for golf, or expensive shoes for basketball, or any other expensive gear. The government is trying to apply ‘club rules’ to all videogame use. This would never fly in the US. Interesting.

      • on which golf course / basketball court will i find new golf clubs / basketball shoes for finishing a hole / scoring a point?

        bad comparison is bad….

    10. Glad I don’t live in a country where I could go to jail for playing a video game. I don’t like bots and hacks either, but that is totally stupid. And to think of how many American lives were lost defending a country that would imprison its people for something like that.

    11. Bot or go to jail. I like that idea because the more you do not hold people responsible the more they will run all over you.

      • Let me know how that works out. My guess is that nobody will be arrested for this. Its a bunch of flag waving.

    12. prohibition doesn’t work – the harder you try to prohibit, the more profit illegal sellers will make!!! what century are we in?!?!?!

      these developers make intentionally addicting and time-consuming games in order to keep people playing, often for unhealthy amounts of time. a small minority of people ruin family and friend relationships, even marriages, because of online games like D3 and WoW. should they be illegal? are the developers really to blame for making games that are so time consuming and ‘difficult’ that we feel pressure to trade real cash for game currency in order to compete? or is this not really any different than investing in any other ‘hobby’ in order to increase ones enjoyment of the activity?

      i see ‘going backwards’ is not a trend only in the united states. cash sales are practically a religion now. both sides have their extremist supporters. you people realize that you are advocating putting human beings in a cage for this right? for five years of their lives?

      ‘the integrity of the game’ ? – this isn’t cricket or chess or mahjong. it isn’t a thousand year old cultural staple its fucking diablo. the game was made to waste your time and money, to a shameless extent by blizzard.

      • I couldn’t refrain from posting, since this is not the first time I see this…

        “these developers make intentionally addicting and time-consuming games in order to keep people playing, often for unhealthy amounts of time. a small minority of people ruin family and friend relationships, even marriages, because of online games like D3 and WoW. ”

        Maybe you and other people should learn to set your priorities in life. I play less MMOs/D3 because of family, job and friends (aka LIFE). I can’t even think of a scenario where I would not ever put my family, job or friends before some pixels.
        What happened to patience? Do you really have to “beat the game” within 1 week or 1 month? What about just stretching it out? will you get a medal or anything other than some e-peen pride from having a bunch of anonymous people online being impressed by your pixel achievements?
        I was a competitive player once, in fact, I was part of a small group of people that initially brought large scale LAN competitions of thousands of players to Europe. But I got older and things change.
        For younger people who apparently can not control that, I strongly suggest that parents do a better job at educating them starting at a young age, that there is a time for everything in life, and anything in excess is usually detrimental.

        — NaK

    13. I dislike this law for two major reasons, and neither of them have to do with how I feel about the RMAH:

      1) Government should not have a say in how video games are designed. Not only is that a nasty slippery slope waiting to happen, it’s also a bad case of a nanny state. Just because they’re going after something gamers hate doesn’t mean that they should support this law; by doing so you are giving the government precedent to extend their reach even more, and there’s a good chance that the next thing they get rid of will be something gamers actually like…

      2) Nothing in video games is worth putting people in jail over. It’s a [email protected]#$ing video game. What is it about using a simple script in an online game that makes you deserving of 5 years in jail? It’s like jagarr says, we’re dealing with human beings here. “Game integrity” is NOT worth giving a person with family and friends jail time. I actually find it mildly sickening that many of you are supporting this just because you have a bone to pick with Blizzard.

      And then of course there’s the possibility that this law might just be a repeat of prohibition, and end up creating an even larger black market by making it illegal. I’m sure there will be ways around this law since gold/item selling has always been a large deal. Either way, this law is unnecessary, sets a bad precedent, and is downright silly. No gamer should support this.

    14. While I totally agree with SK’s decision to ban trade of virtual goods in games for cash it does seem kinda hypocritical to say games should be only for entertainment and academic purpose when there’s no other place on earth that you can make more money of professional gamers.

      • Amen. E-Sports begins and ends in Korea, for crying out loud. I guess they’re still pissed that Blizzard tried to control tournaments themselves instead of let the local Korean outfits leech out. That probably has more to do w/ it than they’ll admit.

        • Of course “local Korean outfits” will be pissed off if they cannot “leech out.” You don’t go to another country, set-up shop, earn billions of dollars while stepping on everyone’s shoes.

    15. How do people with 10-12 hour jobs (FYI I’m an engineer) catch up with you no-life, all-locked-up-in-your-moms-basement players then? We can’t and we don’t play all day like you do. RMAH = Balance. It’s not our fault you can’t afford a measly $250 weapon.

      In the end, it’s either you can afford to OR not. Obviously your stand on the issue would depend SOLELY on that (No point in denying it).

      • Someone’s jellous of other players in a non-competitive PvE game. Now this is sad.

        No point denying it, you just want instant gratification, even at the cost of money, because you can’t enjoy the game without being better then the younger generation.

        And no, views on RMAH aren’t only based from wealth perspective, but i guess you don’t see it, since you’re dealing with your mid-life crisis by buying pixels 250$ a pop.

        • You can’t even spell jealous correctly. Get some education kid.
          And oh yeah, are you telling me that the PVP that’s bound to come out anytime soon isn’t competitive? Whine more please. I bet you even had to steal your mom’s purse so you could buy the game at $60.

          For the record, I’m 28, and is not/will not be going through any mid-life crisis anytime soon. Get educated, and PLEASE get a real job. Then, and ONLY then, will your opinion matter to me.

          • Not only is he a DB, he’s a fanboi! Did u take a break from tapping at smile? Poor girl

      • I’m an engineer, married with children. I still enjoy the game and will never pay real money for virtual items outside the initial game cost. Then again, I play to have fun and I feel I get value for my 60 entertainment dollars. Where else can I be entertained for pretty much 10 cents an hour?

        Thanks for buying my stuff tho.

    16. I dont expect anyone who isnt Korean to understand but I still see a few who pretend that they do. Cultural difference, look it up. This is simply not just a game.

    17. I agree with Korea’s assessment– I hate RMT, including the RMAH in D3. However I don’t believe that government should be able to decide for us.

    18. Magic the gatering on line, pokemon on line,….

      So they will be sending kids to jail for trading their …. On line pokemon ??? …

      Great country.

      They can join north Korea already ….

      Freedom is not a huge word in such countries I guess….

      Next step will be other game items like collectable cards, collectable sports items, collectable Wow Pets, collectable Art items.

      I get it: people will be forbidden to collect any on line or off line game and sports items….

      All belongs to the state which will decide HOW you Must enjoy games, sports and other “cultural and leisure time”


      Listen dudes If I want to play games, let me play them the way I want to enjoy them, not like the state decides for me…

        • I don’t think he understands what “communism” is :p

          Communism is not synonymous with authoritarianism. There are authoritarian regimes on the right as well as the left.

      • Its real money trading of virtual items from what I gather. Using ingame cash gold to buy said items is still allowed.

        Anyway here the relevant bit from the Korean Times http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/tech/2012/06/129_112964.html for item trading is this, “Korea has decided to ban trade for commercial game items” & “game providers will be unable to list in-game items in their accounts as property, or handout gift certificates for item purchases.”

        Also bots are to be banned with penalties of 50 million won fine, at a maximum, and five years in jail.

        Dunno how they going to enforce it though, as A) they need to detect botting. And B) the bots farms/sellers will just move outside outside of Korea and run operations from there (as then SK cant really touch them).

    19. I’m pretty sure that this law would ban both Magic: The Gathering Online and Eve Online from Korea. This law is as misguided as the time Greece accidentally banned all video games.

      The worst is all the people rushing to defend it. Making cheating at video games into a felony is wrong. It’s wrong because it is unjust. The penalty is very inappropriate in relation to the damage, and so it will either be practically unenforceable, or it will cause mostly innocent people to suffer. Go ahead, accuse me of being soft on cheaters. I must support the RMAH, right? Imagine if Marijuana usage carried a penalty of 25 to life. How can you give someone 5 years for selling their time in a video game?

      Of course, this is Korea, the only country in the world where [i]playing[/i] video games can get you paid millions. And the same country that also tried unsuccessfully to regulate the number of hours each week that a citizen may play video games.

      • The debate isn’t about whether RMAH should be removed. That is a completely different question.

        The debate is about whether governments should be able to dictate to game companies how they design their games.

        Are you SURE you want that? If they can do that on this issue, they are going to be taking on a lot more than that.

    20. The government is stepping in and saying what is and what isn’t ok for people to do with their money in a video game? Wow, I figured the US would be the first to pull this one…

      Way to go Korea.

    21. And because Korea bans that sh*t, we get a HC RMAH soon to compensate the losses in revenue. 😉

      Quote from the first Diablo 3 auction house FAQ:

      Q: Can Hardcore characters use the RMAH?

      A: Hardcore characters are limited to the gold only Auction House, and apart from that they can only buy/sell with other hardcore players. The reason Blizzard gave for this is that they don’t want people spending real money on items just to loose them when they die.

      Hearing, hearing your wonderous stories .. ^^

    22. I am politically a liberal democrat (in the US sense :p), and I am not anti-government, at all. I think the government has a big role to play in leveling the playing field by regulating industry, providing public safety, protecting shared resources and providing a social safety net.

      And I dislike microtransactions, cash shops, and the RMAH.

      However, I think there are places where the government does not belong, and specifically, it should not be legislating morality. The individual should be free to do what they like so long as it does not harm others. That includes what they do sexually, what drugs they use (up to a point), and how they spend money for entertainment.

      And I am actually shocked that so many people in this poll seem to support government having a role… not just in their own country but in EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD… in outlawing what is essentially a victimless crime :O

      You can hate these behaviors, but still think people have a right to engage in them. That is my position.

    23. RMAH == Real-money online gambling.

      If one, than why not the other?

      (I think both should be allowed, but I choose not to participate.)

    24. Fuck ya so happy no gold farmers for Korea and us Americans can make bank off our bots. By the time blizzard bans us we already made a $600+ profit off 1 account.

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