South Korea is known as one of the most impressive online gaming countries due to their cities having speeds that are regulated and kept high, and online gaming is a huge deal there. The anticipated Diablo 3 however has caused an explosion of anger among the South Koreans after the representative of the Grand National Part Shim “Clean Shim” Jae-Chul submitted a report to the Korean National Assembly a report from the Game Rating Board about the effects of MMOs and real-money trading.
The auction house was created to fight back directly against people who sold MMORPG items illegally, a rather clever idea since Real-money trading on online games outside of official premium content is taboo among legit gamers and an automatic ban in the eyes of most companies.
The details of the report submitted said that when a game delivers virtual goods based on random chance, such as loot dropped by the countless monsters killed in Diablo, and those items can be exchanged for money, the game is legally considered a form of gambling and should be denied a rating under the Gaming Industry Promotion Law that was passed last year.
However, the report drew cricitism from the media and from gamers who were claiming that this was simply an attack on Blizzard. Under Korean law, a game that has not been rated cannot be released, making it effectively a ban on sale. The fact that Starcraft is literally a sport among Koreans makes them have a lot of love for Blizzard, and this is roughly the same as the ESRB in this country refusing to rate a Madden game.
The GRB said in their defense however that the report didn’t single out any specific game and that they will not take any action against any company or game they have not seen, and that they will only deny the rating if the “gambling” issue is blatant enough to run afoul of the law.
If it does, then Blizzard will likely just remove or alter the auction house for Diablo 3 or alter it so that real money cannot be used to purchase any content in it. However this will completely remove the reason the auction house exists in the first place: To attack real-money traders making a profit off items they don’t own right there on the spot.
I don’t see how it can fall afoul of gambling laws. You pay once to play a game, and if you find a nice item that you don’t want, then you can sell it off to someone. It’s like paying to enter an ancient tomb being investigated and hawking off anything that you find, except less dangerous.