Recently, many Chinese mobile games have been released in South Korea. While some good games have been successful, there are a lot of games that cause various problems in South Korea, such as not complying with the self-regulation, posting obscene advertisements, not running a customer center for South Korean users, or introducing a payment system that is not linked to the App Store or Google Play.
And it is common to see Chinese games ending their service in South Korea. However, two games came out that showed completely different behavior.
First, let's take a look at the mobile game 'The Abyss & The Dungeon' of TOJOY GAME. It was launched in South Korea in November 2018. Since the last update in February 2019, it has not been updated. On January 3 2020, TOJOY GAME announced that they will shut down the game in South Korea on February 1.
However, there are some things that game companies need to keep in mind when discontinuing the game. According to the mobile game standard terms and conditions established by the South Korean Fair Trade Commission, game companies must announce the date of shutting down, the reason, and compensation conditions 30 days before the end of the game. And game companies can end a game only if they have significant business reasons, such as closing their business, expiring game contracts, or significantly declining revenue. In addition, the game company must refund the paid item that is not used by the user.
However, TOJOY GAME ignored all relevant rules of the mobile game standard terms and conditions. They did not announce it 30 days before the end of the game nor give the reason. 'Refunds for paid items' were not mentioned at all. Instead, they said, "We will pay coupons and new characters for the mobile game ‘Summon Princess’". ‘Summon Princess’ is a mobile game that TOJOY GAME released in South Korea in August 2019. This is a very unusual end of service notice.
Next, let's take a look at ‘Ark Order’. ‘Ark Order’ is a mobile game developed by Chinese game company ‘Mingchao Interactive Technology’. South Korean company ‘D&C of STORM’, a subsidiary of ‘D&C MEDIA’, released ‘Ark Order’ in South Korea in August 2019.
‘Ark Order’ was in crisis four months after its launch in South Korea. ‘D&C MEDIA’, the parent company of D&C of STORM, decided to close the game business and shut down ‘D&C of STORM’. Shutting down the company is one of the reasons for discontinuing the game service that is described in the mobile game standard terms and conditions.
But ‘D&C of STORM’ said they will try to transfer the service to other company so that South Korean users can continue enjoying the game.
The general manager of the game business of ‘D&C of STORM’ also post said "The operation team will be with the game's domestic service to the end, and as general manager, we will do everything we can" After that, it was confirmed that the service would be passed to other company. South Korean users can continue enjoying the game through a new company.
Of course, someone can say that the two games are different in terms of game quality and popularity. And someone can also say that the country doesn’t matter and if you have fun, you can enjoy it. There may be some objections that bad cases don’t only happen in Chinese games.
However, in each of the above cases, two game companies were extremely different. One acted like they can always give up their users at any time, the other showed the responsibility to end.
This is happening because of the environment of the South Korean mobile game industry that is hard to hold foreign companies accountable. In South Korea, anyone can launch a mobile game if they get approval from companies like Apple, Google, and ONEstore. Foreign companies do not have to set up branches in South Korea to release a mobile game. For South Korean users, it is difficult to respond properly even if they are wronged by foreign game companies.
China, on the other hand, has been controlling foreign games with ISBN number. And South Korean games haven’t gotten any ISBN number since March 2017. Some mobile games that Chinese game companies developed based on South Korean games got ISBN number.
I believe that countermeasures against such export imbalances and damages caused by foreign companies are needed. For example, games that violate the terms and guidelines of the mobile platform more than a certain number of times must be taken in various ways such as banning distribution. If necessary, the relevant legislation should be revised to ensure that South Korean users are no longer harmed by foreign companies.
Finally, if you want to prevent from being wronged while playing mobile games, be sure to check out the developer information of the game. You can find the address of the publisher that posted the game in the developer information. If they are located in in South Korea, they would be at least responsible for South Korean services.
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