A character in Blizzard Entertainment’s newest video game Diablo 3 slays enemies in this screenshot. The American video game developer and publisher’s quest to get Korea’s Game Rating Board’s approval has been just as strenuous. / Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment
By Kwaak Je-yup
The Game Rating Board, government agency responsible for approving and classifying video games, sees no end in sight for a decision an entire legion of fans anxiously awaits.
Though a ruling on the third and latest in the series of global bestseller Diablo was rumored to be due today, the board spokesman said Tuesday there were no signs suggesting a definitive answer.
“Committee members are conflicted about what to do with Diablo 3,” he said, “because of (its American developer) Blizzard’s information on the game’s ‘auction house’ feature.”
The virtual auction allows users to buy and sell items won during the game, which for many, including the board, resembles gambling. The controversial cashing-out feature, which would convert play money into real currency, was excluded in the most recent resubmission on Dec. 22 but continues to confound the process.
The next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, but the spokesman cautioned fans against optimism, saying instead that reviews take place every Wednesday and Friday.
“As it is described in the (re)submission, committee members are still reluctant.”
Blizzard has dug a grave for itself by publicly committing to a simultaneous global, region-free launch for the first time in company history. Because every country will receive identical software, the Korean board’s decision is keeping the global game giant in chains.
“In principle, we are always committed to a global release,” said spokeswoman for Blizzard.
She declined to give a fixed date for the release, however. Some industry pundits say secrecy of release dates follows the norm of game software developers, often working until the last minute to change minute details, refusing to release anything less than their ideal version.
But in this case, the high-profile visit to Korea last September by Michael Morhaime, Blizzard’s CEO and co-founder, his meeting with the Game Rating Board members and the subsequent announcement the following day of a fresh delay, combine to fuel the blogosphere controversy.
Specialist blogs and websites are rife with posts about the reasons behind the repeated delays, most of them speculating that the Korean authorities are holding up the international release.
Diablo 3 has taken the U.S. video game publisher and developer Blizzard a decade to complete.