Since getting Greenlit, Army and Strategy: The Crusades has been getting documents processed for registration as Steam Developers, and that has finally been taken care of - although there is still a bit of a journey left before we're ready to release.
Currently we are continuing our work from last month, debugging and adding scenario content. Work on integrating with Steamworks is still in preparatory stages, but we hope to introduce you to the Steam version of AnS soon.
This is pretty much it for dev news, but we would like to talk about an issue which is currently significant for Korean game developers, and may be of interest to Indie Game Developers in the rest of the world.
Remember, No Korean.
Among the laws of the Republic of Korea, there is one called the 'Game Industry Promotion Act.' You might say 'wow, this country promotes video game development on a national governmental level!' from looking at the name alone. But this law is highly detested by Korean game devs and gamer alike. The reasons for this can be a really long story, but I'll try to make it short.
- In South Korea, all games must receive Game Ratings through a review board.
- Creating or releasing games which haven't gone through this review is a legally punishable offense.
- When I said "all games," that means exactly that - even something an amateur game developer makes as a hobby has to be reviewed before they can so much as have their friends legally playtest it.
- But the organization in charge of Game Ratings (The Korean Game Rating and Administration Committee) has neither the ability nor the infrastructure in position to be able to rate "all games."
- As a result, the survival of Korean amateur and indie game developers is in danger at the hands of the government.
It's clearly an absurd law, but we've managed so far without problems - Korea's indie game developers have either tacitly created and released games, or been active in areas like mobile application markets (ex. Apple App Store) where there is no requirement for legal ratings.
However, at the National Assembly on October of 2014 criticized games accessible through Steam as "operating in Korea while breaking Korean law" on the basis of this law. And the department office contacted Valve with the request to "block off all games with Korean-language support while not having received Korean game ratings."
The problem here is that the rating board has no infrastructure in place to review games created by foreign developers. Currently, non-Korean game developers cannot even apply to have their games reviewed - the only way to do that is to come to Korea personally, fill out a form which is only available in Korean, then make your way to the relevant department and submitting it (again, in person).
As a result, indie games which have been offering Korean language support (Mini Metro, for example) have been deleting their Korean language data after receiving communications from Valve. Korean gamer and developers are angry at these events and demanding a solution from the government - and the government has publically declared that it will solve this problem.
To offer a few tips about dealing with Korean language support and Korean game ratings
- There are currently no direct methods for non-Korean game developers to receive Korean ratings.
- If you happened to have a partner within Korea (such as a publisher) it would be possible to do so through them - except there are as of yet no publishers in Korea which specialize in indie games.
- The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korean National Assembly is aware of this problem, and moving towards a solution. However, if there's anything we all have in common, it's the snail's pace of bureaucracy - when the solution will come is a big question mark.
In certain respects, games are not accepted as cultural or artistic in Korea. But a multitude of game lovers are working hard to bring about that acceptance. I ask you to root for us gamer and game devs in Korea. Thank you!