Korean Ratings Board Delays Diablo 3 Again

Thanks to Lukk for pointing us to news that will surely go over like a spoonful of pepper spray from Korea, as the ratings board again declined to come to a final decision on Diablo III, due to the gambling-like element that the RMAH adds to the product.

The Game Rating Board, government agency responsible for approving and classifying video games, sees no end in sight for a decision an entire legion of fans anxiously awaits.

Though a ruling on the third and latest in the series of global bestseller Diablo was rumored to be due today, the board spokesman said Tuesday there were no signs suggesting a definitive answer.

“Committee members are conflicted about what to do with Diablo 3,” he said, “because of (its American developer) Blizzard’s information on the game’s ‘auction house’ feature.”

The virtual auction allows users to buy and sell items won during the game, which for many, including the board, resembles gambling. The controversial cashing-out feature, which would convert play money into real currency, was excluded in the most recent resubmission on Dec. 22 but continues to confound the process.

Though Bashiok has said that the game could be released in different regions with different features, and that there’s no reason that Real Money Auction House delays in Korea would delay the product worldwide, many fans find this less than reassuring/believable. I guess we’ll find out at some point, if this Korean ratings board issue keeps dragging on and Blizzard refuses to remove the RM aspect of the AH in Korea, to speed things along.

Also, it’s interesting that they removed the “cashing out feature” in their latest proposal. How would the RMAH have worked without that? Would Korean players have just built up a Bobby Bucks™ balance forever, and only been able to spend it on Blizzard merch?

Update: Kotaku spotted this news here and posted an item with a delightfully-inflammatory headline. It’s interesting to see how more general gaming fans react to this news, and there are a lot of “who cares about the real money?” as well as, “this sucks I’m more eager for Torchlight 2 anyway.” type comments. How representative those are of gaming fans on the whole? No idea.

Update #2: From Jay Wilson’s Twitter feed this afternoon:

any good news from Asia ? –vadrianstefan
Asia is not what’s holding us back. You’ll see soon enough. —Angryrobotics

I’m fairly certain that Bashiok has said this exact same thing on at least one occasion, but that’s no reason to automatically mistrust it.

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57 thoughts on “Korean Ratings Board Delays Diablo 3 Again

  1. I dont see the reason why Blizzard would delay the game worldwide because of Korean issues, unless…

    ….the game is horrible, not really fun and sucks really really badly. Obviously then the Korean sales (when they do come) would be rather bland. This is obviously not a scenario I would hope for. Hopefully the rest of the game is much better than the rather slow starting, cartoony-wow-like beta.

    The real reason for the delay would be SW:TOR, im guessing.

    • I already played the game so I am 100% sure I will love it. The real reason of delay is Korea of course. Blizzard wanted them to rate the game in August/September and they are still bi*ching about RMAH. Its unbelievable, but true. Blizzard committed to global release so no “worldwide-except-Korea” release is not going to happen. They will excuse that “the game is not ready yet” and so on, but really, they just want Korean money.

    • The majority of the player and online/print media beta feedback seems to be overwhelmingly positive. So its very unlikely that Diablo III wont be a hit. It is a Blizzard game (you have to give them credit for their past accomplishments)! Every Blizzard game since Warcraft 1 (?) received numerous platinum awards (90% in game tests). So far I have no reason to think the good looking Diablo III will be different.

      The start of the game looks great to me, too. It has a nice fitting art style, the sound effects are great, the skillsystem is awesome, the quest system looks solid and the story (ingame and starting video) seems to be very deep and epic too. Your opinion is very biased and clearly lacks any reasoning if you call Diablo IIIs start a “slow starting cartoony wow like beta”.

      Also I cant see any reason why Diablo IIIs launch should be influenced by SW:TOR. SW:TOR is a mediocre MMO game (judging by the german online/print media reviews I read so far). Diablo III is not a MMO, and barely even a RPG. I think there is no way that /THE/ most anticipated fantasy hack and slay game has to compete with a so-so good sci-fi MMORPG. Or do you think Starcraft IIs sales are affected by a new Warhammer MMO game? I dont see it, sorry.

      “Though Bashiok has said that the game could be released in different regions with different features, and that there’s no reason that Real Money Auction House delays in Korea would delay the product worldwide, many fans find this less than reassuring/believable. ”

      I believe Bashiok in so far, that Blizzard – at some point in the future – has to release the game, even without a green light from the korean gaming board. Right now it seems to me that Blizzard still sees the possibility of a global RMAH launch with a global DIII launch. So they use the previously unplanned extra time to further polish the game, waiting for the koreans to make up their mind. If the korean board doesnt give them the “go” sign in the near future, they will surely cut the ropes and release the game with different RMAH-versions (full / partly / none). The german game versions are extremely often censored, especially the amount of gore (blood removed, blood green, gore changed to funny junk parts [Team Fortress 2]). So why shouldnt Blizzard release different versions regarding the RMAH, if they have to? Surely koreans can buy foreign versions or log in to foreign region servers, but so can we germans. We can import the uncencored versions from (for example) the UK and play in Germany on the german servers with no cencorship, often even in our own language.

      That is my _guess_, my gutt feeling so to say. Neither of us has proof, the above mentioned reasoning just seems likely to me.

    • SW: TOR peaked at 1.5 mil and is already declining with many subs being cancelled before the end of their free 30 days… so yeah… guess again…

  2. Not surprised that the RMAH causes extended law issues, but that it’d be gambling is ridiculous.
    You could argue that drops are random and since there’s a real reward attached to a “good find”, the machine could result in an addiction similar to gambling, but I’m not buying it. Some key elements of gambling are missing, you’re not making an investment to get the next drop, the reward is an item that is only equal to money on a more abstract level, the rewards come so frequently that it should be fairly easy to calculate an “average gain” which you really don’t do in a casino, plus a clearly defined jackpot, the promise of which keeping you hooked, does not exist.
    It has more similarities to a job than to gambling, stock market trading has more similarities to gambling than this.

    • Its not ridiculous. You just don’t want to admit it is gambling. You have to pay 15 cents to list your item for 48(?) hours. If you sell your item you win money, if you don’t, you lose. Just like a slot machine.
      I’m not here trying to convince anyone to be against the AH (although I am), I’m just pointing that if Korea has laws against gambling then it makes sense to be against the current AH.

      • You describe here how auctions work. Are auctions gambling according to you or is it a market of supply and demand?

      • That is not the part the ratings board is concerned about.  It’s the random drops from mobs, not the actual auction aspect.  Auctions are still legal in S. Korea and are not considered a form of gambling no matter how much people try to reason that it is.

      • Most US states still consider one or more forms of gambling illegal (many don’t allow most or all forms) and yet Blizzard has no problems with having the RMAH in NA so yeah… it’s a dumb arguement…

  3. It’s reasuring to know that bureaucracies work the same world wide.  This panel has little to gain by approving the RMAH, while saying no to the RMAH is a safe decision. 

    Now, if this gaming board somehow derived funding from taxing on the conversion of Blizzard bucks to real money, it’d be rubber stamped so fast the sound barrier would be broken and the seizmic shock would be felt in California, followed by a tsunami.

  4. The RMAH without cashing out would work better in Korea then most other markets. Over there most titles are purchased through a low monthly fee instead of the one time retail cost most of us the US and Europe are familiar with. They could pay their SC2 and WoW subscriptions with their findings.

    • And people still think they will be getting a noticeable amount of money by selling their items…

      • Monthly income?  No, of course not.  $10 a month?  Given prices of D2 items now, pretty likely.

        • Good luck to you then… In the future, when you will be struggling to sell just ONE item in the RMAH, remember my post. =)
          I predict that normal players, those that won’t use bots/hacks, will most likely make one dollar monthly if they try to sell their items for “profit”. Those that use only the free auctions to sell their items will make even less.

  5. A lot of Korean and Chinese MMOs use a system where you spend money to buy “tokens” (given different names in different games, eg. “mall points”, “premium credits” etc.) that are used to buy items on the auction house (or trading post, or intergalactic exchange centre, whatever the particular game calls it).

    When you sell something you can choose to sell it for an amount of gold or an amount of “tokens”. So you may list an item for 500 gold or 10 tokens. Generally the rarer items are only listed for tokens. This makes it possible to accumulate tokens by farming and selling items, and also makes it possible for people who don’t have enough gold to buy tokens and buy the item for tokens instead (eg. pay to win).

    So if Diablo 3 was shipped in Korea without the cash-out option it would fit in quite easily with a model that already exists, except they’d also be able to use their tokens to buy Blizzard merch etc. which is more than they can do in other games.

  6. So Blizzard is waiting/hoping for the board to somehow approve the RMAH? So how many NO’s will it take for Blizzard to figure out its not going to happen. As far as I know this is the third time that the board hasnt approved the RMAH, even without the cashout function. (No, no & No!) Maybe a bribe or two would help at this point? Dont get me wrong I want the game as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous. Im thinking that we are definitely not getting the entire story here.

    • Perhaps the lobby of Asian Gold sellers is too important ?

      I expect quite the same reaction in China.

      Billions of dollars from illegal gold sellers are at stake here.

      They can close their doors when this RMAH system would be universal in a few years time…

    • It’s not that haven’t approved it, they haven’t made a decision at all yet.  There is still more deliberating going on.  I’m pretty sure that KeSPA is lobbying heavily against it just to spite Blizzard.

  7. Hopefully this catches on with other conservative governments and Blizz has to push the game back indefinitely, SC: Ghost style.

    • Yeah, it is SO much better to pay for items in lay designer’s cash shops.

      Some people have NO clue at all…. 

  8. A different point of view is to ask whether eBay works in South Korea?
    The idea is the same, you bid for a product using money.
    Be it in-game gold, or in this case, real money, I don’t quite see the difference between D3’s RMAH and eBay.

  9. DC, i think, the german version get no censorship so far, when i remenber me right.
    But anyway, i hope for release end of februay. Its not a big thing i mean, the feature to disable in some regions like korea, an to activate to a later time, with green light from the gaming board.

  10. The game is fine for everywhere else, but the Korean Gaming Board doesn’t like it? Screw you KGB!  It is obvious, Blizzard needs to hire someone who is better at giving money under the table!  Just totally disable the RMAH for Korea and figure it out in a patch so the rest of us can enjoy the game already… (in Korea players can just collect gold/items and sell them once you enable the RMAH). The revenue you lose from the delay is bigger than the profit you will get from the Korean RMAH anyway.

  11. can someone give them an envelop with some “fee” , to speed things up 😛

    OT: gambling or not , in my eyes its just a matter USA Vs Korea atm…..

  12. Ebay isnt addicting though. You dont do anything on ebay to acquire your wares you plan to sell. Its the auctionhouse without the game.

  13. I love the title “Could This Country Muck Up Diablo III’s Worldwide Release?’ Most sensationalist!

    At this stage I think the best thing that could happen (from Blizzard’s perspective) is for the game to be rejected outright in SK so then they can push ahead with the game’s release around the rest of the world. They can continue to deal with SK specifically over the coming months until all issues are ironed out & meanwhile start making some of the money back after all those years of investment. The shareholders must be getting impatient after such a long development cycle. 

    At the end of the day, as unfair as it is on SK, surely it will spark some debate & possible law change if the game has been given the green light everywhere else in the world & just not their own country. I should stress though I really do feel for the SK fans at this moment in time. They must surely be the most tense out of all of us over this issue.

    • @ “At this stage I think the best thing that could happen (from Blizzard’s perspective) is for the game to be rejected outright in SK so then they can push ahead with the game’s release around the rest of the world.”
      Jup, my thoughts exactly. Just say NO to Blizzard, so they can launch (although they already got 3 NO’s by now).

      • @nobbie

        Question is, can they release the game without SK? They game is not region locked, everyone in SK can just buy the game from other countries and play it.

  14. Really a win-win for blizz, push the cannibalization of wow out another few months, and demonize and embarrass some pain-in-the-ass officials at the same time.

    • Diablo 3 needs to be delayed because the next Wow expansion must enter in beta first.

      You don’t slaughter the golden cow before you make up a back up plan.

      WoW and Diablo3 are already linked to each other (1 year subscription plan to get D3 for free and the RMAH earnings going to support the subscriptions of Wow).

      This duo ticket Wow/D3 will maintain Blizzard’s momentum and dominant on line position until 2014 when Titan will enter the scene.

  15. Nice logic, scorch, everyone should have laws that align with American cultural standards. You should work for blizz.

    • My point was it’s not about it really being gambling because if it was, it would be illegal in like 2/3 of the US… It’s about having the appearance of gambling which even that is seen as dangerous in SK… That is why they are hesitant about it despite the AH function being perfectly legal there… Now go away, unregistered dullard…

  16. I´d say this is more about protecting their own (korean) products then anything else through usage of extremly selective and biased criteria. Some time ago Ni No Kuni, one of the child friendly and cutest games around, got M (or equivalent) rating for Korea because at one point in the game you can “gamble” using in-game currency for some meaningless rewards. The criteria they are using for D3 are ridicoulus in their generalness. If you apply these criteria that any event where you have a probability at winning something as gambling, then they might as well ban everything and every game ever made. Because, applying these criteria, you can find some element to ban over in every game, most certainly in their own beloved Korean MMOs.

    “Give me six lines written by the most honest man in the world, and I will find enough in them to hang him.”

  17. just fucking disable the damn RMAH on a korean server. if the players move to a different server thats not blizzards fault. fuck korea lets bomb them

  18. Gambling – including state lotteries – was illegal and almost nowhere legally in the us besides LV and AC until 25 or do years ago. That’s because of our deep national decline under the boomers. Of course, a kid like you wouldn’t know about that, much as they wouldn’t know what a curse gambling is in most Asian cultures. Run along now, scorchypants.

    • What does how long ago gambling was legalized in certain places in the US have to do with what I was saying? You can call it a curse, but my point is that the RMAH is not gambling and to call it such is to be paranoid… Also, I can gaurantee you I’m at least 10 years older than you judging by your condescending, know-it-all tone and assinine nickname… at least in mindset… Ironically, kids are always the first ones to use age as an insult…

  19. I guess now Blizzard knows what it’s like not to know when they are going to get something.  Now they know how we’ve all felt for quite a while about when we’re going to get the game.  How’s it feel, Blizzard??  How does it fell??

    I admit that this would be a lot more fun if it wasn’t holding up the release of the game everywhere else.  Unfortuantely, it’s exactly what’s holding up the release of the game everywhere else.  Releasing a different version of the game in different countries would be enourmously complicated if you think about it since the game isn’t region locked.  Let’s hope they’ve considered this possibility and have a plan…

  20. According to Bashiok:

    “This can only end in disappointment. When a final decision is rendered and game still isn’t released, finally people will realize the two weren’t linked, as stated. But then the game still won’t be out, so still no one is happy. I suppose those are just the ups and downs you have to expect when following something so closely.”

    • “This can only end in disappointment.”
      If Bashiok’s referring to the fact that he’s about to give another typically ambiguous statement, then at least he’s right about that…
      Anyway, the fact that the game won’t be out after the decision is rendered doesn’t prove anything.  We all know this to be a fact.  They delayed the game in September.  Does Bashiok really think that if the game or even a release date announcement doesn’t happen shortly after a decision gets made that the community will just turn around and say: “Well, I guess it wasn’t the Korea thing after all.”  Unfortunately for Blizzard, their handling of this has basically painted them into a corner where virtually no likely future turn of events (aside from – gasp – an even lengthier delay than we’ve already endured) could ever prove that the Korea rating wasn’t linked to the release date delay.  There are two things that would have proved it in the first place though:
      1)  Blizzard having given the community a specific and believable reason(s) for the delay as soon as it was announced.  Sadly, Blizzard didn’t do that.  Saying “it’s not done”, “doesn’t meet our quality standard”, or “needs more polish, fine tuning” blah blah whatever the hell they said doesn’t tell anybody anything.  When all you’re giving us is generalities and double talk, we’re going to draw our own reasonable conclusions based on what we know.  That’s how most of us have come to the conclusion that Korea and the delay are related.  You could have stopped us.  You didn’t.
      2) Announce a release date that wouldn’t be possible if the Korean GRB doesn’t cooperate.  At this point, even this ship might have sailed already.  Let’s face it, sooner or later (and I’m still betting on sooner believe it or not), the Korean GRB is going to make a decision on the game.   Blizzard is going to have an idea of how close the GRB is to its decision based on the information the GRB is asking for and the communication they have with the GRB, so any release date they give now will probably be given either after the GRB decision or with fairly certain knowledge of when that decision is going to be made and what the decision is likely to be.  What I’m saying is had Blizzard announced weeks ago that the game was coming out a few weeks from today and today we were still waiting on the rating, telling me that the rating wasn’t the reason for the delay might pass the smell test.
      Doesn’t it tell everyone all they need to know that the tight-lipped Blizzard bunch doesn’t say much of anything about anything most of the time, but as soon as someone says “Korea” and “delay” in the same sentence, Bashiok or some other blue is trying to get out in front of it and denies it??  Where there is smoke, there’s fire.
      Just give up the release date and all will be forgotten.  Just cut the cord, give it up, and then we can get back to the business of giving this game the hype it so richly deserves even if its developers deserve less these days.

      • Fun fact about conspiracies, nothing can ever really disprove them, in the minds of their supporterrs that is. Blizzard can come out and say “it´s not that” all you want, but no, there must always be some ulterior motive which you, the brave champion of justice, must uncover to save the world. Is how most conspiracy nuts think, you are slightly more sane, though no less irritating. Oh, and I love the shifting of blame, “it is YOUR fault that I think this way.”, wonderfull, really. Example of this philosophy applied: “It is your fault I killed you because you didn´t convince me to let you let go. So, you see, you are responsible for my actions.”

  21. If they delay again because of Korea it really shows who the RMAH is really designed for becaus they know where all the gold sellers , I mean players are at. I’ll be shocked if they release without them, hell they will earn some a little respect from me if they release without Korea.

  22. I find it hard to believe that the whole ordeal with Korea doesn’t have something to do with a release date. There has to be something, whether it is one big thing or several issues with the game. Perhaps they are working on issues with the RMAH that testers have found that would enable somebody to cheat the system. I think they could be a little more forthcoming about what is going on, instead of saying: “The game will be ready when its ready”. They dont have to give a day by day account of what they are working on, but something like balancing runestone effects or balancing out how weapon speed affects casting speed, I dont know.
    I for one have been bothered by several things with the game, namely the online-only aspect, but I knew I was going to buy it when I heard they were coming out with it. I will make due, whether it be a new machine, better router, better service provider, whatever, I dont care. As far as the gambling thing, if they want to go that route, walking out of your house in the morning is a gamble, hell life itself is a gamble. If Korea is the reason for the delay, I will be seriously aggitated. Because, yet again, somebody else’s beliefs have held me back from enjoying my life.

  23. RMAH would be quite a bit better without cash out. Killing all the dreams of the goldseller companies in one hit.

    Although the inflation would be nasty.

  24. Think of meph runs…
    Theoretically, lets say 1 baal run is like a $1 chip at a local casino.
    After X number of runs a Windforce drops. You cash out by selling it (turning in the chip) to the RMAH (casino cashier) for $100 dollars.
    It’s a chance. You’re essentially gambling when you involve real money.
    Why is it gambling? Say you run 100 Baal runs, equivalent to $100 dollars (you are, afterall, investing your time as you would sitting in front of a slot machine for X number of hours). You may or may not get a Windforce drop (jackpot).
    Again, this is gambling. Eliminate real money and all you got is in-game currency (no cashing out chips for real $). It then becomes a regular video game entertainment. Nothing of monetary benefit.
    Still don’t think this is gambling?
    In the most utopian thinking, had every country (such as Korea) made this a controversial issue, Blizz would’ve scrapped the entire fiasco involving RMAH.
    This entire thing is completely driven by Blizzard Stakeholders – gamers interests are put in the back seat.
    Too bad this isn’t realistic at this stage of the development. Poo.

  25. Why is it gambling? Say you run 100 Baal runs, equivalent to $100 dollars (you are, afterall, investing your time as you would sitting in front of a slot machine for X number of hours). You may or may not get a Windforce drop (jackpot).
    I don’t think so. In this case, time does not equal money. Your analogy doesn’t hold water simply because when you sit in front of the slot machine you invest both time and money. When you sit in front of the computer playing Diablo, you only invest time. If you were to actually pay for each Meph run (like inserting a coin for each lever pull), then yes, it would be gambling.

    • Of course the RMAH is no gambling.

      You play – without paying a dime – then you find something extremely rare. You post it on the AH – even FREE of charge if you want that once a week … And the you cash out – just like an official auction.

      Auctions are NO gambling houses. You put up a good for sale: the seller knows what he sells, the buyer knows what he is paying for …

      BUT the RMAH is a huge revolution in RPG on line play because of the following reasons:

      1. For the first time in history players will be able to earn money or credit notes having a REAL value in Real Life by selling gear/items in an on line RP game.
      2. The value of your gear/possesions of your character will be directly expressed in REAL Money value.
      3. This value will grow beyond the gear chase models of present day game play.

      By this Diablo 3 is a huge revolution in the way we play rpg’s.

      And at the same time it could revamp the subscription based mechanics AND the lame gear/content shops from so called “free to play” games and Facebook crap.

      Diablo3 ‘s RMAH could be the next big thing since WoW intoduced MMO’s to Mr/Mrs Everyone.

      Great times ahead, no doubt about that.

  26. Wagram, you are exactly right. Gambling involves money up front, from buying a lottery ticket to putting a token into a slot machine. I can run Meph all I want to for free, no money up front. The RMAH is not gambling, period.

  27. I think it started off as just being the Korea issue. But Jay and team used this time to dive into their convoluted systems AGAIN and make changes. Now also Korea’s a factor, but dont expect the release date to be announced the moment the cloud on Korea clears. I think the guys are AGAIN making core system changes.

    I sincerely hope not though. But all social media posts seem to be pointing towards that.

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