In several articles this year we have expressed frustration that game developers in Korea have faced as a result of regulations proposed by the government to limit their proliferation. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has been making noises relating to shutting down young gamers through an online curfew. It seemed like a difficult policy to implement and was eventually dropped, but the gaming industry has taken government interference in their industry seriously and the Korea Association of Game Industry (KAOGI), has even muted the possibility of law suits against the government to protect the rights of its customers to spend their free time as they wish…and to protect their own interests.
The most recent development is that a decision has been made by a presidential committee to cancel regulatory measures on Web board games, citing a lack of legal grounding for the measures. The Regulatory Reform Committee recently decided to reject a set of measures proposed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism that would prevent speculation on Web board games, including genres such as poker.
The proposal, which came to light last October, triggered an industry-wide backlash against policies such as limiting monthly in-game purchases to US$274, enforcing 48-hour playing bans for daily losses over $91 and mandating ID certification for game access.
While the cultural ministry is expected to sustain its regulatory stance on the game industry, analysts said the latest decision marks an optimistic turn for major game developers such as NHN Corp., Neowiz, and CJ E&M.
The effects would have been brutal. “In NHN’s case, the proposal would have more than halved its Web board game revenue,” Korea Investment & Securities Co. analyst Hong Jong-gil said.
Investors have been encouraged by the news, with NHN shares performing well, according to Hong. Joseph Chung of Woori Investment & Securities Co. echoed this positive view, stating that “the policy move will improve investor sentiment on Web board game operators such as NHN, CJ E&M and Neowiz Games”.
Park GeuHye, Korea’s President, has taken several measures to encourage entrepreneurship in Korea since taken office, and it is believed that her easing of regulation against the gaming industry, is a further demonstration of her dedication to nurturing Korean IT startups and SMEs, many of whom operate in the gaming space.
On the news shares of NHN shares jumped more than 4.5%, CJ E&M rose 1.33% and shares in Neowiz Games surged over 6.22%, according to the Yonhap News Agency.