Korean players of the mobile gacha game Uma Musume are suing its publisher in that country for neglectful treatment. Kakao Corporation has been hit with a lawsuit by indignant players, who claim that updates are poorly-communicated and that in-game benefits are weaker in Korea than elsewhere.
If you're not familiar with Uma Musume, it's a gacha game in a similar vein to the soon-to-be-shut-down Dragalia Lost (which is also developed by Cygames, incidentally), although this one's all about racing instead of adventuring. You'll train the titular "uma musume", which translates as "horse daughters", teaching them to be better runners and helping them to win competitions.
It's one of the most popular South Korean mobile games, but it seems players aren't happy with the way the service is being run in Korea. According to Korean news platform Yonhap News Agency, South Korean players say that Uma Musume events are often revealed late in Korea compared to the game's native Japan, and that the Korean version of the game provides what Yonhap calls "weaker online item benefits".
Player Kim Sung-soo, who is representing around 200 Uma Musume players, brought the lawsuit against Kakao on Friday. Kim's group is seeking around 200,000 won each, which works out at around $140. There could be more users joining the suit, too, if Kim is correct; he says that more than 7,000 Uma Musume players have expressed an intention to join.
This dissatisfaction goes back a ways, it seems. Back in August, dissatisfied Uma Musume players staged an event criticizing Kakao for its mismanagement of the game, culminating in the appearance of a horse-drawn carriage bearing criticism against Kakao.
For its part, Kakao seems aware of the criticism. The company's CEO, Cho Kye-hyun, has apologized for Kakao's management of Uma Musume multiple times, but Kim says that these apologies aren't enough. Speaking to Korean reporters at the courthouse on Friday, Kim said he didn't think he and his group "would be here today" if Kakao had "apologized and promised to change from the start".
We'll have to wait and see where Kim Sung-soo and his group's lawsuit goes. One thing's for sure, though: as Yonhap News Agency points out, Korean politicians are watching this case closely to see if more stringent regulations on the gaming industry are required, particularly with reference to consumer rights. We'll bring you more as we get it.