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South Korean game regulatory agency investigated for corruption

An investigation took place as a result of petition by players of gacha titles affected by unpopular age-rating changes
South Korean game regulatory agency investigated for corruption

The South Korean Game Rating and Administration Commission (GRAC) has seen three department heads resign after a player petition initiated an investigation into the regulatory body.

As reported by Chinese news outlet GameLook and English-language outlet NicheGamer, an investigation into GRAC was spurred by a petition from players of the mobile game Blue Archive. This title, as well as fellow gacha game Fate Grand Order had their age-rating changed from 15 to 18 due to perceived graphic content within the game. A change which many players vehemently disagreed with.

After the regulatory body requested that the game be reassigned to an age-rating of 18, a petition was launched that received around 5,400 signatures. This then triggered an investigation and public audit into the company, which unearthed a 600 million ($46k) embezzlement being uncovered. Allegedly this was money funnelled from funding and into bitcoin mining, although other reports indicate it was in fact more likely embezzled from funding allocated to an internal management system project.

The results of the investigation have led to the resignation of at least three department heads, management planning, game content management and self-regulatory support.

Division in age-rating

Although the GRAC scandal represents a major potential course-correction in terms of age-rating it’s worth noting that other actions by regulatory bodies, such as those by the Game Policy Self Governing Organisation (GSOK) which regulates certain mobile games including gacha titles, continues to function normally as far as is apparent.

However, there’s definitely been no shortage of harsh legislative action elsewhere, such as that of a proposed approval system for titles originating in China, with whiom South Korea has famously frosty relations.

Many Chinese players protesting over this latest age-rating scandal feel that the situation has been fuelled by politicised regulatory action towards games, particularly mobile games of which many are developed and published by Chinese companies in the Korean market.

Others have pointed to corruption within GRAC with lawmakers using the player petition as justification for their investigation. Certainly at least one observer has pointed out the inherent unusualness in seeing a mobile title trigger the downfall of a regulatory body.