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Gambling concerns might delay Diablo III in South Korea?

Fandyllic January 5, 2012 User blog:Fandyllic

A curious article I stumbled across...

From Will Diablo 3 be delayed because of South Korea’s gambling concerns? by Alex Roth on January 04, 2012.

Diablo III News: Video games and gambling don't mix in South Korea. Diablo 3's real money auction house has invoked the ire of their Ratings Board.


The video games rating board of South Korea doesn’t like Diablo III’s auction house, and they’re fretting could delay the game’s world-wide release. Specifically, it’s the ability to change in-game money into real world cash that’s troubling the Korean Media Ratings Board. To them, this game-created revenue source could result in gambling, a vice they’re more than a little sensitive about. It’s resulted in much foot-dragging on their part, which could spell trouble for Bizzard’s plans of releasing the demon-slaying title in multiple countries simultaneously.

Is this puritanism on the part of the Korean ratings board, or an attempt to avoid scandal? Video games, especially Blizzard titles like Starcraft and World of Warcraft, are a huge cultural force in this Republic of 48 million. Last year, their active pro-gaming scene was rocked when nearly a dozen Starcraft players were caught throwing games. Their motive? Receiving bribes from gamblers illegally betting on the matches.

Many compared it to the corruption-induced tragedy of the Black Sox’s throwing of the 1919 World Series. This scandal is likely fresh in the minds of those holding up Diablo III’s rating and subsequent release in South Korea.

At this point, Blizzard’s plans to address this, as well as Diablo III’s release date, is unknown. Rumors had pegged it to some time in March, but since Blizzard appears committed to a simultaneous global release, a first for the company, this controversy could result in further delay. While Blizzard’s motives for a such a release have not been stated, it may stem from the prevention of illegal importing. If South Korea’s release is delayed, and the game comes to the rest of the world, they’ll be giving pirates and importers a huge opportunity, and could splinter their audience in the large, passionate Asian market.

What do you think? Does South Korea have legitimate concerns? Where should Blizzard stand its ground? What’s more important, a global release or getting Diablo III out the door?

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