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By 6 September 2010 | Categories: news

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According to TIGSource, the South Korean Game Rating Board (GRB) has started enforcing stricter rules on games released in the country without its approval. This includes Valve's Steam online gaming service which offers hundreds of titles for online download.

The reason behind this is that any game that is widely available in South Korea, whether in-store or online, needs to be rated by the GRB, a government-owned and run institution.

In other words, a game that has been rated by the Electronic Standards and Ratings Board (ESRB), as is the practice throughout the rest of the world, won't be 'legal' in South Korea until the GRB has also given it their own rating.

The GRB may block Valve's Steam services because the large library of games available for online download (from multiple developers) has not been rated by the GRB. They are now expecting Steam to send in all games for approval, a huge task given the size of the online library. The GRB also charges for every game it rates, meaning Valve will have a lengthy bill to foot if this new measure goes through.

But the real problem comes in when dealing with independent developers, small companies of dedicated individuals creating games by themselves, usually limited to online distribution. Each of these small games, from the tiniest flashed-based browser game to huge roleplaying titles, need to be rated by the GRB.

It's often impossible for these small companies to afford to have their games rated by the board, especially if the games were meant to be freeware from the start.

Large developers have their ways of sorting out these kinds of issues, and if it comes down to it, the capital as well. The real tragedy here is the possible death of Korean independent game development. This measure will prohibit aspiring South Korean game developers from getting their games out there, basically making it their own gaming version of our wildly controversial Media Appeals Tribunal.

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