MapleStory developer Nexon is being hit with a sizable fine by the Korean Fair Trade Commission over what the body says are deceptive loot box practices.
As reported by the Korean Times and Business Korea, Nexon is being fined some $8.85 million (about 11.6 billion won) for allegedly lowering the probabilities of some loot box items capable of upgrading player equipment,, known as Cubes, without telling players According to the Korean Times, it is the largest fine of this type levied to date.
The judgment claims that Nexon engaged in these practices for more than 10 years in a period dating back to 2010, including secretly lowering the loot box odds for some items to near zero. The findings were reportedly based on internal documents obtained from Nexon.
“Nexon made announcements about changes to the games hundreds of times from 2010-21, but it omitted the information about the probability adjustment,” the KTFC said in a statement. It added, “Our judgment is that the company had aimed to lure customers by giving them false information and used deceptive means.”
Loot boxes have become less popular in recent years owing to the intense backlash from fans. Instead, developers are more likely to favor the battle pass model pioneered by the likes of Dota 2 and Fortnite. However, loot boxes remain prevalent in mobile games and sports games, and they are a hot button issue for regulators.
Nexon in particular has become known for its aggressive monetization practices. Last year, IGN reported on MapleStory’s controversial “New Age” update, which made it more difficult for players in certain regions to farm a key currency while the price of some items were inflated. The update led to large-scale protests throughout the community.
MapleStory is a free-to-play 2D MMO that first launched back in 2003. It has purportedly raked in some $418 million [550 billion won] in sales from its loot boxes in the period between 2010 and 2021.
The Korean Times reports that Nexon apologized in its statement but that it will appeal the decision. IGN has reached out to Nexon representatives for a full statement.
Kat Bailey is IGN’s News Director as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.