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China is Cracking Down on MMORPG Lockbox Vendors

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By michael_fuchsDate: Dec 13 2016 Views:

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China’s Ministry of Cultural Information recently announced that it would be cracking down on MMORPGs that offer lockboxes as part of their cash shop experiences. To summarize the notice, online game operators are required to use true randomness in lockboxes, communicate the contents that are in them, publish statistics, and provide alternate routes of acquiring what’s in them (either through gameplay or through separate purchase as a single-item in the cash shop), as well as protect minors from them.

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The online game operation enterprise shall provide the virtual props and value-added services by means of random sampling, and shall not require the users to participate in the way of directly investing in the legal currency or online game virtual currency. The online game operator shall promptly announce the name, performance, content, quantity, and the probability of extraction or composition of all virtual props and value-added services that may be extracted or synthesized on the official website of the game or the randomly selected pages. Publicity of the random extraction of relevant information should be true and effective…Online game operators shall publish the results of randomly selected users to participate in the game’s official website or a significant position in the game, and keep relevant records to prepare the relevant departments query log duration of not less than 90 days. When publishing random results, some measures should be taken to protect user privacy.
When the online game operation enterprise provides the virtual props and the value-added services in a random way, it should provide the users with other virtual props exchange, and other ways of obtaining the same performance virtual props and value-added services by using the online game virtual currency direct purchase.

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Companies that fail to comply with the notice are at the mercy of the Ministry of Cultural Information, and possible punishments may include hefty fines or banning of the game within the country.
Many country regulate so-called gacha games, including Japan and Korea. However, MMO lockboxes often escape these laws, except for requiring odds disclosures to players. As lockboxes are a form of gambling, and typically a rather unfair one, players seem to be welcoming this notice with open arms.
Note that if you are within the United States, this will likely not affect you – as similar laws to control online gambling are barely effective and do not cover MMORPG lockboxes.
The full notice by the Ministry of Cultural Information, in the original language, can be found here.

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