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The Japanese government squashes social gaming's dreams

5:00 PM on 05.10.2012 // Hiroko Yamamura

Usually I have the pleasure of reporting the latest fun and silly stuff coming from my homeland of Japan to our readers. Today I get to tell you about something so ridiculously dumb my head is actually hurting. Do you like buying in game items with real cash? I don't either, but I sure am glad I have the option to.

The Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency has been fielding complaints about children spending high amounts on Yen on various social media game in app items. Their reaction? Make it illegal. Sure, it's probably a bad idea to have any child downloading 4 million Yen worth of in game gachapon, but isn't that someone else's job to regulate? Like the fabled parents?

With the Japanese gaming industry in decline this is actually a huge blow, both financially and morally to an industry struggling to find a profitable model. Look at companies like Zynga that thrive on in game sales. The games currently in the spotlight utilize a "Complete Gacha" engine, which like collecting anything, encourage the player to buy virtual tokens to purchase virtual items. Players and children are encouraged to spend more money to attempt to get random prizes, and the fears are, stir up the pleasures of gambling. Ryo Hazuki better watch out! 

After the warning to Complete Gacha game makers like Gree and DeNA, stocks dropped rapidly across the board. Other companies that make social media games such as Konami and Namco Bandai saw their stocks dip as low as 18% amid fears. Internal regulation, good judgement, and fail safes are one thing, however the government dictating the terms is another. The companies have come together to build an Internal User Environment Committee, to self regulate and ensure compliance and proper use of their social media games. Only games that award players for completing sets or collections are affected, normal in game purchases are not affected.

Gree and DeNA phasing out "complete gacha" due to regulatory threat [Games Industry]

Hiroko Yamamura, Contributor
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