The Ministry of Economic Affairs (hereinafter, the “MOEA”) announced the amendments to the Matters Which Shall be Specified and Shall not be Specified in Standard Service Contract for Online Gaming Services, which were renamed as the Matters Which Shall be Specified and Shall not be Specified in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services (hereinafter, the “Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services”), via the MOEA-Jing-Gong-Zi 10704605180 Announcement of October 8, 2018. The Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services will go into effect on January 8, 2019. These amendments are highlighted below:
1. Scope of Application. The Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services are extended to standard contracts formulated by gaming operators on Internet-connected gaming services provided to the consumers through Internet connections between computers, smart devices or other electronic carriers (such as mobile phone games or applications) and the servers designated by the operators. However, this does not include the electronic game consoles, simple local area connections or other gaming services which do not require connections with game servers via the Internet within the meaning of the Statute for the Administration of Electronic Game Arcades.
2. Regulation of opportunities or activities for winning prize goods. Consumer disputes arise when operators mostly attract the consumers to make continuous payment through activity information to win prize goods. Point 6 is added to the Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services to stipulate that the operators shall fully disclose information about goods or activities so that the consumers can make informed consumption decisions with warnings to the consumers that purchases or participation in activities does not suggest they can surely win specific goods.
3. Handling of illegal use of accounts. To prevent the accounts of the consumers from being illegally used or their electromagnetic records from being improperly transferred and to reduce consumption disputes arising from third-party theft, Point 8 of the Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services provides that an operator shall first confirm a consumer’s identity as the account holder and any matter of impersonation to avoid disputes caused by the freezing of the account or change of the account passwords. It is additionally stipulated that an operator may suspend or constrain questionable accounts, passwords and third-party use.
4. Notification of contract termination and handling of refunds. Although current regulations allow operators to terminate the contract after notifying the consumer if the consumer is found to have engaged in gaming by unreasonable means such as plug-ins or virus programs, still patterns of consumer violations such as gaming through irregular settings or purchases of points by fraudulent or improper means are also added as part of the reasons for an operator’s contract termination and are added in order to protect the majority of game consumers who abide by rules.
5. Subsequent handling after an operator stops its gaming operation. To avoid consumption disputes attributable to the discontinued operation of an operator, Point 19 is added to the Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services to provide that if an operator terminates the contract due to its discontinued operation, the operator shall make a public announcement at least 30 days before the operation stops. In addition to refunding unused points or gaming fees paid by the consumers without deducting necessary costs, other reasonable compensation shall be provided to the consumers. If the operator fails to make a public announcement in advance, specific compensatory measures should be taken in addition to the refund.
6. After the amendments to the Matters in Standard Service Contract for Internet-connected Gaming Services go into force, if a standard contract executed between a relevant operator and a consumer does not comply with the above requirements, the competent authority may demand the operator to rectify within a required period in accordance with Article 56-1 of the Consumer Protection Law. If no rectification is made within the period, the operator will be subject to a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$300,000. In case of continued failure to rectify within another stated period, the fine will be increased to NT$50,000 to NT$500,000, and the fine may be imposed continuously until rectification is made.