(OPENPRESS) July 18, 2012 -- Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency has decided that a system widely adopted by online game operators on SNS websites (social networking service) violates a law on sales methods.
In the said online games called complete gacha (kompu gacha), players could win a rare virtual item or a prize after he buys a specific number of items required.
The agency started the probe on the game services following complaints of extremely high payment charges on players of SNS sites like Mobage and Gree.
This gaming system was first introduced in online games by SNS last year. Kompu gacha is an advanced level of gacha where players can get rare items after collecting a specific combination of objects available in the games.
However, the gacha games have continuously been criticized for banking on the players' gambling tendencies, especially then the specific item they will get is not known at the time of purchase, which makes it similar to a lottery.
The gacha game was supposedly inspired by vending machines that sell small toys inside capsules. But in this case, online players are buying virtual items for hundreds of yen, which they can use in the game, as opposed to physical, real ones.
Even though the games are basically free, users still have to pay for the Internet access and for items they want to have like virtual clothing or weapons in order to have more advantage in the game.
An association of 6 social game makers that include DeNA and Gree, Renraku Kyogikai might be asked by the agency to stop offering such kompu gacha games. Black Hawk Reviews - Online Games claims that the CAA is preparing to announce the said game practice as illegal and plans to notify the organization representing game makers that it must shut off all kompu gacha games.
But while kompu gacha is only one of the many revenue sources of these companies, investors appear anxious and are already pulling out. Social-gaming firms DeNA and Gree both suffered a 20% stock fall since the issue broke out.
The online mobile games market in the country is found to have a worth of USD 3.1 billion, with the kompu gacha type of games becoming the main source of profit for the site operators.
Continuous growth of gaming trends among the youth is a critical factor which brought the matter up as parents are filing complaints to the CAA after their bills skyrocketed from kompu gacha games. One middle school student accumulated almost USD 5,000 in charges in just one month while a primary school pupil has reportedly spent over USD 1,500 in just 3 days of playing.
Japan is not the only nation where children's computer games are a growing concern. An example in the United States is the case filed against Smurf Village by parents of a kid who accumulated massive bills from app purchases.