This Week In Korean Online Gaming News: Shutdown Law To iOS Games
[Gamasutra rounds up the week's biggest reports on South Korea's booming online games market from This Is Game, the leading English-language site about the country's game industry.]
In our latest round-up of news from South Korea's online games space, we look at a constitutional appeal filed against the country's looming Shutdown Law, exceptions in that policy for mobile and console games, and the App Store finally offering iOS games without any fuss.
Constitutional Appeal Filed Against Online Gaming Shutdown Law
Cultural solidarity organization MoonHwaYunDae (MHYD), on behalf of a group of students and their parents, filed an appeal to the Korea's Constitutional Court against the recently passed Shutdown Law meant to prevent children aged under 16 years old from playing online games during a late night six-hour block.
Though the law is meant to combat online gaming addictions when it goes into effect, MHYD alleges that it violates citizens' rights to education, to equality, and to pursue happiness. The group also says the government created the law without considering why teens play these games so late or why they get addicted to games.
MHYD claims talented younger gamers should have the right to play games, just as they would when pursuing educational, artistic, athletic, or other pursuits. It argues that the government hasn't proven that playing games is more harmful than watching TV or movies, listening to music, or engaging in other indoor activities.
Shutdown Law Expected To Temporarily Exclude Mobile, Console Games
The South Korean government's Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism and Ministry of Gender Equality & Family have reportedly agreed to temporarily exclude mobile and console games from its controversial Shutdown Law, as they deem online gaming addictions on those platforms to be not as serious a problem.
These two departments are expected to announce this decision at a cabinet meeting on November 8, when they will allow a two-year grace period for those platforms before reconsidering if they should be included -- if gaming addictions become prevalent on console and mobile games, they may reverse the decision.
An exception has also been made for older PC retail games that have online features but no age verification process, such as Blizzard's old Battle.net platform. Some Korean game companies, which rarely release console or PC retail titles -- unlike Western publishers -- claim that the law discriminates against them.
iOS Device Owners Can Now Purchase App Store Games Without Workarounds
South Koreans can now purchase games on their iOS devices through the new Games category in the region's App Store. iPhone/iPad owners previously needed to buy games using an account registered in a different country, or purchase titles released under an "Entertainment" category by their developers.
This was due to the government's decision to block mobile games not rated by its Games Ratings Board (Apple internally reviews and rates submitted games). The country's government has since changed its mind and lifted the ban, a week before the iPhone 4S launches there and two years after the 3GS debuted.
The Android Marketplace in South Korea will begin offering its own Game category before the end of November, too.
[This story was written with permission using material from ThisIsGame Global, the leading English-language site about the South Korean game industry.]