PUBG investigated by Korean government, will it be banned?

PUBG screenshot with loot crates crashing stocks

After the Korean Fair Trade Commission has raided PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds publisher Krafton offices, what will the game’s future be in the country, and could it result in a PUBG ban in Korea?

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may have lost the fight to Fortnite in terms of mass appeal, but the game still stands as the second biggest active battle royale. With hundreds of thousands of players in the game daily, PUBG won’t be in danger of irrelevance anytime soon.

In addition to its continued popularity, plenty of PUBG spin-offs are currently in the works, with one such title expected for a late 2024 release. While the games reap success, the publishing side is another story. Recent reports suggest Krafton, the game’s publisher, has attracted the interest of the Korean Fair Trade Commission.

Is PUBG banned in Korea? 

PUBG is currently not banned in Korea.  Although Korea boasts a thriving video game culture, the government has some qualms about anything that resembles gambling. According to translated reports from Hankyung, the Korean FTC sent investigators to Krafton’s offices after reports that the publisher had misrepresented the probability of rewards from in-game microtransactions. However, the exact subject of the investigation remains unknown.

In March 2024, the Korean government passed a law that specifies that gacha rates must be transparent to a game’s players. The law aims to prevent harm to consumers, who may continue purchasing in-game loot boxes, or similar variants, under the false hope of receiving imminent rewards. These recent crackdowns from the Korean FTC are likely the government’s way of seeking to enforce the new law. 

A representative from Krafton claims the Korean FTC is “investigating the game industry as a whole.” The Korean FTC previously investigated other game companies including Ragnarok Online’s Gravity and Night Crow’s Wemade for allegedly manipulating in-game item probabilities. Notably, the Korean FTC also investigated Starseed Asnia Trigger publisher Com2uS around the same time as Krafton. 

In 2023, industry analysts report that PUBG hit $10 billion in overall revenue despite being free-to-play across all devices. Cosmetics-based economies in popular multiplayer games remain a contentious topic. While a PUBG ban in Korea is unlikely, Krafton may have to change its current revenue model or provide greater means of transparency if the Korean FTC finds anything amiss in its investigation. 

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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