Virtual Economy Research Network
Thursday, November 23, 2006
According to an article of a Korean newspaper, if a recent proposed bill named “Amendment for Game Industry Promoting Law” be through the National Assembly, all kinds of mediating businesses between in-game money and real money could be punished.
The amendment adds the former original bill to a clause for prohibiting acts of exchanging in-game money to real money. This tells that anyone cannot do her business for ‘exchanging’ or ‘mediating’ exchanges of, and 'repurchasing' outcomes of games by real money. The 'outcomes' mentioned include in-game money, all kinds of in-game points, but in-game items are not among these.
According to an official concerned, RMT mediating companies can be punished for their acts of mediating in-game money. Already well known, most of RMT transactions are being done by in-game money, not specific items. So, all of these companies are at the outside of the law.
As the bill can be validated without any period of suspension, the authorities concerned can regulate any act of mediation and the mediating companies, once the bill is passed. If nothing special happen, the bill is expected to be carried by Dec. of this year.
Meanwhile, the government is also considering another regulatory measure for in-game items that are not included in the above case. After some public hearings are held, they are to submit another amendment until early of year 2007.
* According to one of members of Gamestudy.org, the first edition of the amendment proposed by a congressman had no explicit expression for in-game currency like Arden of Lineage. The bill itself should be checked for getting more exact picture.
The previous news for sales of two mediating companies to IGE might be precursor for this action of government. Actually, as the firm like ItemMania is owned by IGE as of now, this measure might bring a small trouble between two countries. What if the IGE would move the business from Korea to U.S.? Also, the amendment might be strongly influenced by the big scandal about gambling arcade gaming of this year. The most criticized fact about the scandal was the exchange between gift certificates won by game playing(actually it is not playing, but just gambling) and real money. At that time some observers were harshly bashing RMT of online games in the like manner.
Anyway, considering the size and effects of RMT in Korea, this measure is to be another big turn in Korean MMOG market. It is a structural change to effect players, developers, and other derivative companies around online games.