The gaming company NCSOFT is caught in a scandal involving illegal access to some games published in South Korea. Let us remind you that according to the country’s legislation, players must undergo identity verification in order to protect children from cruel games and limit the spending of gambling addicts.
NCSOFT was previously very loyal to players from other countries in its “Korean” versions of games (L2, BnS, Aion) and carried out repression mainly against bots and cheaters. The company knew for years that foreign users were playing on accounts registered to South Korean residents, but looked at this situation loyally. There were no bans on foreign IP or VPN services; there were many ways to top up accounts through third-party resources and transfer money between accounts (“gift currency/money”). It was even possible to play on old accounts created more than eight years ago and verified with virtual numbers, which is no longer possible after changes in legislation in 2018.
This situation has often served as a target for jokes from players, but recently there has been no time for jokes. What happened in the last couple of weeks:
- In Throne and Liberty, mass logins to accounts and transfers of lucents (premium currency) through an auction. This affected both people who bought accounts from resellers and South Korean players.
- Unexpected appearance of someone else’s phone number in your NCSOFT account profile.
- Illegal transfers of money between accounts to unknown people.
- Charges from NC credit cards (yes, NCSOFT in South Korea has its own payment system).
- Spam in the chat and dozens of bots in every clearing in the game.
In most cases, South Korean users blame NCSOFT for negligence, but they also mention Chinese and Russian users in passing, since the IPs of these countries appear in their personal accounts. Criticism and dissatisfaction with the company’s work are already going beyond gaming forums and can reach government services, since theft of personal data and money is a criminal offense. Players who have lost both gaming property and their finances add fuel to the fire.
South Korean companies are known for their inertia, but in this situation, NCSOFT began to solve the problem. As part of unscheduled work, on January 8, 2024, mandatory linking of computers via SMS confirmation was introduced in the MMORPG Throne and Liberty. In this way, the developers hope to cut off attackers from the accounts of the legitimate owners. At the same time, this hit some accounts of foreign players, because not everyone has access to SMS. But if a Korean phone number was unlinked from your account, then you can link any other number there (Russia, Ukraine, China, Germany, Lithuania) and thus register your computer. But in any case, the legal owner can regain his account at any time by sending a special letter to technical support.
A special formwhere you can apply for compensation for lost valuables at Throne and Liberty, but they promise to provide a detailed explanation after an internal investigation.
In Lineage 2, the situation is somewhat worse: today it became known that the company has decided to completely ban access for players from other countries. The use of VPN is also prohibited. Separately, it was said about the prohibition of spam and “pollution” of the game chat with similar and meaningless messages. These restrictions will come into force on February 8, 2024.
Now players are wondering about the possible application of a similar practice to other games of the company: AION, Blade & Soul, as well as the recently released Throne and Liberty.