Game Programmers Suspected of Stealing Code

A character from the A character from the "Lineage ll" game

Police are investigating a suspected theft of software code for online game "Lineage III" which is being developed by Korea's largest game maker NCsoft.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police said Wednesday that seven former NCsoft employees are suspected of having sold the technology to a major Japanese game company.

The seven left the Korean firm in February and allowed the Japanese company to review the software during a job interview. Police believe that the technology might have been copied during the demonstration.

The former NCsoft employees are also under suspicion of having leaked the program design of "Lineage III" by email or portable disk last September.

According to police and industry insiders, the game company has suffered from an internal management problem since a senior game developer was fired for poor leadership skills.

But the sacking only led to greater problems for the company, since most of developer's 90-member team quit with their chief.

An NCsoft spokesman estimated the potential damage at over W1 trillion (US$1=W927) considering that the combined sales of "Lineage I" and "Lineage II" topped W1.5 trillion.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 26, 2007 11:12 KST