Cash Shop Ban on Teen Rated Games Could Shake the Korean MMORPG Industry
The South Korean government seems to be continuing its revision of the rules and regulations related to cash transactions in MMORPGs. The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism (MCST) presented an amendment to the current Game Industry Promotion Act that would effectively ban the popular cash shop option (that, for the ones that live under a rock, allows the purchase of in-game items with real world money, and provides a source of income for most free-to-play MMORPGs) from games rated by the local Game Rating Board under the 18+ threshold.
Considering that a large percentage of the most popular MMORPGs in South Korea are rated 15+ or even 12+, if the amendment were to pass, it could effectively shake the whole local gaming industry, and with publishers forced to scramble in order to find alternative sources of revenue, it would probably show ripples in the West as well.
Considering the growing popularity of free-to-play games on this side of the Pacific Ocean, if the Korean originals were to come without a cash shop, Western publishers would be forced to spend resources of their own in order to implement it from scratch, or to find alternative resources of income as well.
This may also accelerate the deviation of the Korean MMORPG industry towards the 18+ market, that has recently spawned quite a few games like TERA and Blade & Soul. With the primary source of revenue banned from games aimed at a younger audience, publishers will probably focus on games aimed at a mature fanbase, that are safer in front of the influence of the legislative effort of the government.
A final ruling on the amendment is expected by December the 5th.