South Korea to declare Boosting services in esports Illegal.

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South Korea is one of the few countries that takes its legislation on the esports industry very seriously. They have one of the most developed countries when it comes to esports. The Overwatch League has a majority of its players from the country. WIth PC Bangs and some amazing internet speeds, it’s not surprising to see South Korea take the lead once again.

The South Korean government is now closer to making boosting services for profit illegal. The amendment to the ‘Law On Game Business Development’ which was passed in June 2017 seeks to prohibit boosting for monetary gain.  It is important to understand that for profit needs to be established in such cases. So the transfer of money or potential promises of money is crucial to establishing the case. Regardless such cases could lead to up to two years or a fine of up to 20 million won.

The definition of proxy gaming is as follows:

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

An act that interferes with the normal operation of the game by arranging or providing the service to acquire the score or performance of the game in a way that is not approved by the game related business operator.

For many months now, boosting services have gained momentum in the country. With even current professional players admitting to links with boosting services in the past, it is no longer something that can be ignored. Players like OGE in Overwatch have had links with boosting services in the country. For many western players, it is difficult to understand why boosting is such a big issue. Boosting in the west is not something that is a huge crime even in the eyes top professional players. But in Korean esports culture, boosting is as bad or worse, at times, than cheating in-game.

This bill, if passed, will help create a healthy game ecosystem. If the bill passes then all those ads for boosting services on the major portal sites will also be illegal. The extension of the country’s laws, which recently criminalized hacking and hack distribution in competitive gaming, is just another frontier in South Korea’s attempts to create a fair competitive gaming culture in their country.

Assemblyman Lee Dong-seop

The act goes live six months post the passing of the law. According to a report on thisisgame.com, the law was introduced on July 7. So we should see it going active very soon provided it passes through the remaining regulatory hurdles. This also allows the authorities to take action against the boosting services advertisements across internet forums. For players, this ensures a cleaning action of the community. The instances of imbalanced games and high skill-gap will come to a slow closure.

Big Impact on Riot Games and Blizzard

Riot Games first suspended and later banned XiaoWeiXiao for a fixed time.

Riot Games welcomed the move as it was in sync with their attempt to crack down on boosting.

Boosters are already suppressed within League of Legends, but this law will help us catch them even better once it’s passed.

Riot Games has initiated legal action against boosting services in the country in the past. However, such actions are rare and extremely costly for the game developer. With the lack of any legal laws in the past, any action against boosters was after a long and arduous process. With the new law, we can expect authorities to crack down on such companies and websites. There will be a much cleaner environment for casual as well as professional players in South Korea. Considering how we are seeing a high appreciation of esports as a profession in the region, this law could not have come at a better time.

OGE has accepted and apologized for boosting services in the past.

A few recent examples of professionals players who’s involvement in boosting is public knowledge:

  1. Team Impulse’s XiaoWeiXiao in League of Legends.
  2. Dallas Fuel’s OGE in Overwatch.

Further hurdles for the final passage of the bill

South Korea is one of the most dominant countries in esports.

The bill saw its initiation with 10 members of the National Assembly led by Dong Sang-sup initiate the amendment to the bill in June 2017. The Bill ( Bill number 2007327 ) goes by the name of ‘Law On Game Business Development’ ( translated from Korean).

The bill has only cleared one hurdle and will need to pass another parliamentary vote before it goes live. The amendment to the ‘Law On Game Business Development’ passed in June 2017 and seeks to prohibit boosting for monetary gain.

The bill will pass through the Culture, Sports, and Tourism Committee and the Legislation and Judiciary Committee on December 30. Once it passes this vote, it will go live and create a suitable, competent and fair playing arena. South Korea leads the world once again in paving rules and regulations to provide a better environment in esports.

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