Korean Game Curfew
APRIL 11, 2010 • The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is instituting a curfew on online gaming in the country during the second half of 2010. Concerned about video game addiction by children, the ministry new rules will force underage users out of their sessions for six hours during late night hours. Players will able to choose cutoff times of either midnight, 1:00 a.m., or 2:00 a.m. In addition, the new rules will severely throttle down connections speeds during off-curfew times if underaged users are logged onto titles for a “lengthy” period of time. The rules will be enforced at game servers, with four MMOs current in test. Nineteen more MMOs are slated to be added. Four days later the ministry dealt another blow to Korean gamers by rating the release candidate of StarCraft II adults-only. The ministry had rated earlier versions of the game for users 15 years and older, but Blizzard requested the a re-evaluation with the RC version, netting the 18 years and older rating as a result.
Impact: South Korean bureaucrats seem sincerely concerned about the amount of time spent by minors playing games. While the StarCraft II rating is being spun in some circles as a anti-competitive response to Blizzard’s attempts to control more of the game’s distribution and use in South Korea, we see the issue as a by-product of the new policy approach to minors in the country. Too many South Korean publishers are being affected for the new policies to be seen in any other light.