Case Studies

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How Shutdown Policy Changed the Online Game: The Case of Play Garden


Some countries, including South Korea and China, are implementing game regulatory policies. In addition, in 2018, as the World Health Organization classified gaming disorder in their International Classification of Disease, regulation for games is expected to expand worldwide. Therefore, the game industry needs to be prepared to respond to these regulatory policies.

Sentience have found that policy affects users differently. You can use policies as a means of generating profits by analyzing user behavior in response to a policy.


Play Garden was one of the popular social game in South Korea launched in 2010. However, in May 2011, South Korea’s Shutdown Law was enacted and users aged under 16 were not allowed to play online video games from midnight to 6 am.

Network effect on social games

The network effect is a phenomenon that describes as more users are using goods or services, the goods become more valuable and more customers join the platform. Since social games make players interact with other users; help each other or compete with each other, often there exists network effect in social games. Sentience studies if the network effect existed in Play Garden and examined whether Shutdown Law affected social games, and how it changed the network effect in the social game.

No significant network effect before the law enactment

We found that there is no significant network effect in the Play Garden. While social games are meant to interact with each other such as watering each other’s gardens, players rather played independently.

Structural change and abnormal behavior after the law enactment

After the shutdown law was enacted, there was a structural change in Play Garden. The characteristics of the users are divided; some users tend to play less as fewer users are in the game; some users tend to play less as more users are in the game. While the former shows the network effect, the latter shows abnormal behavior in the game.


Sentience investigated how policy can influence the player’s behaviors in the games. By distinguishing those who are affected by the policy and their network effects, Sentience can segment people by their behaviors on policy and use for targetings.