Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by Civil War Man » 2018-05-04 05:51pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2018-05-04 12:36am
Civil War Man wrote:
2018-05-03 10:29am
Honestly, the industry might need another big crash, if only to provide some incentive to change some bad habits that can't be regulated by law since they aren't actually illegal.
You're hoping that the industry crashes (unlikely). Then hoping that it will recover in a way you like, instead of the companies that survive (likely those making phone games) not changing their behaviour. Do you really think that is a better plan than changing the law ?
That assumes that there is something to legislate. That can work for stuff like lootboxes and predatory mobile games, but you are going to have a hard time legislating shitty shovelware garbage unless you start making early access illegal. The industry is already setting itself up for another crash, and not too dissimilar to how it happened in '83 with the market being flooded by trash games. My argument is that an industry crash has a better chance of fixing that problem than hoping the bad publishers decide to change their business models out of the goodness of their hearts.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-05-04 06:50pm

Civil War Man wrote:
2018-05-04 05:51pm
That assumes that there is something to legislate. That can work for stuff like lootboxes and predatory mobile games, but you are going to have a hard time legislating shitty shovelware garbage unless you start making early access illegal. The industry is already setting itself up for another crash, and not too dissimilar to how it happened in '83 with the market being flooded by trash games. My argument is that an industry crash has a better chance of fixing that problem than hoping the bad publishers decide to change their business models out of the goodness of their hearts.
I dunno, man. I feel you here, but I don't it will or even could happen. They're too divested. There's also enough people (or really one) doing it "right." Like, Nintendo deals with DudeBros (Xbox) and SDF (Sony) morons chanting "FALL FALL FALL" then they just keep on trucking and releasing gold. They don't even make bad games (Other M is just like such a screwball from them). They just go through sprints where they release "not great" or games that are just considered derivative and get shit for it unlike Squeenix who just keeps re-mastering (poorly) FF games and other RPGs in their stable.

Meanwhile, SDF morons (as Dudebros are essentially dead, or at least MS doesn't really fucking matter) are constantly on life support but then get a super-injection of "not shit" steroids like the just recent God of War exclusive that's actually not just a solid game, but fairly excellent. EDIT: Left out: fanboys are on a whole other level these days. The amount of bullshit that Sony got a solid exclusive, which "proves" their purchase was the right one is hilarious. Sega fanboys weren't half this bad and Sega always pushed that mentality./EDIT

The problem during the crash was the dive into licensed bullshit, spending MILLIONS on licenses and like a drop in the hat on development. Look at E.T. since it was the deathknell that lead to the crash. Now they spend that money outright on marketing their own IP, but that's something they COULD scale back. And some old IPs might have some breath left in them if left to ripen over a few years. Like if Microsoft hadn't beat Halo and Gears to fucking death.

And games fucking COST back then. Development was super expensive compared to today. Deciding to develop an (what would pass) for an engine back then versus licensing was a moot point because most kept their secrets under lock and key. FPS would finally take off mostly due to hardware but also the magic a guy like Carmack could shit out with software rendering. And this was a guy who, at least based on memory, was kind of a shitter when it came to using dedicated video processing hardware. Anyways, you can walk out today and decide "I wanna be the guy who makes the game" and you've got options on many things these guys just didn't have. And with all the shit I give suits today, they actually DO seem more knowledgeable about what's needed to shit out a good game (they just ignore it many times and hide behind pre-orders and review embargoes).

It's like saying Hollywood could crash. It's just not all that likely to happen. The ass kind of fell out of the action movie genre when a guy like Arnold "retired" and they spent over a decade looking for a replacement (The Rock was supposed to be one of those, but he's way to.... charismatic to "be" Arnold 2.0). They instead desperately looked for anything and settled on comic movies. A genre in of itself that has died many times. But Fox, MG, Sorny, all those assholes have multiple other genres and irons in the fires to supplment their income. Also, foreign audiences.

EA could lose it's shit, you know, because they suck, but even trash like Dungeon Keeper made them millions. They don't HAVE to go the loot box route, they can just go back to F2P mobile garbage with paid progression. Because the type of people who dump money into those games don't take "gaming" seriously to begin with and will just buy the next thing. They basically found the kinds of people who buy Madden and Fifa every year and made flash games that work on cell phones for them.

And they can (and would) weather the storm, find out what's selling after the fact, buy up a bunch of indies or flat out copy other groups actually MAKING GAMES. Then make shittier versions of those games and/or grind the people they bought up into dust.

Really though, I couldn't care less about a crash. Co-op is fucking dead and most the shit I play is dated. But even in the event of a crash, I would be worried (aside from Nintendo who would laugh all the way to the bank) F2P mobile bullshit is what we'd be dealing with out of the big boys for quite a while.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-05-10 12:37am

The only crash I can see coming is "live services". They rely on keeping players in them for a long time so that those players keep paying money. Something I've noticed from MMOs is that the players who can be easily convinced to drop game x for game y will also easily drop that for game z. They aren't the kind of player that live services want but the longer live services are pushed, there will be less players who will stick with a game available for new games, because they have already found their game of choice. Leading to a point where old live services keep doing well, but new ones have trouble. Just like the MMO market where nobody came close to topping WoW until MMOs started going F2P.

On that note, EA only has a single game on their coming soon page.

To updates on lootboxes:

The full Belgium report. I haven't had a time to give it a full read yet, but I did notice two interesting recomendations:
Age verification in supermarkets when purchasing codes or gift cards for video games. Minors may not make payments associated with video games that are not suitable for minors.
With regard to game platforms that facilitate payments that can be used in video games:
 The age requirements of the platform and the used video game must be the same. If a game is not approved for minors, they must also not be able to make any payments.
My understanding of those is: If Steam has a single lootbox game, then the entire Steam platform becomes adults only and any physical store selling a Steam wallet code must check the age of the buyer. Ouch.

Also, EA seem to think themselves above the law:

EA CEO: We’re ‘pushing forward’ with loot boxes despite regulation
Belgium and the Netherlands have ruled that many loot boxes in games like FIFA Ultimate Team are equivalent to gambling and in violation of their laws, but FIFA publisher Electronic Arts says it plans to continue its loot-box Ultimate Team mode.

“We’re going to continue pushing forward [with FIFA Ultimate Team],” EA chief executive officer Andrew Wilson said during a conference call with industry analysts. “We’re always thinking about our players. We’re always thinking about how to deliver these types of experiences in a transparent, fun, fair, and balanced way for our players — and we’ll continue to work with regulators on that.”

EA also confirmed that its Ultimate Team modes in FIFA, Madden NFL, NHL, and NBA Live on PC, consoles, and mobile are its biggest live-service moneymakers. These modes bring in more than the Sims games or Battlefield, and they lean on the sale of card packs that act like loot boxes. These card packs include random soccer players that can improve your team and your chances of winning against friends and others online. And some people, policymakers, and regulators — including the gaming authorities in Belgium and Netherlands — that those card packs have are gambling.

Wilson explained to investors that it is working to protect this valuable revenue source, which has helped the company grow year-over-year to $1.25 billion during its last quarter even without releasing a major new game.

“We’re working with all of the industry associations globally and with regulators in certain regions and territories,” said Wilson. “Many of [the regulators] we’ve been working with for a long time, and they have evaluated and established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling.”

EA, of course, says it doesn’t think FIFA Ultimate Team and other video game loot boxes are equivalent to slot machines. Wilson explained why.

“First, players always receive a specified number of items in every FUT pack,” the executive explained. “Second, we don’t provide or authorize any way to cash out digital items or virtual currency for real-world money. And there’s no real-world value assigned to in-game items.”

But on the internet, where there’s a will (and money) there’s a way. You can find a number of sites that will exchange your virtual currency and items for real-world cash that will work at the grocery store. EA says that it is aware of this as well.

“While we forbid the transfer of items and in-game currency outside of the games, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it’s going on in an illegal environment,” said Wilson. “We work with various regulators on that.”

EA will have to convince policymakers around the world that it is doing enough and that its mechanics are not the same as the kinds of games you’d find in a casino. For now, however, it is telling investors that the FIFA Ultimate Team factory is still printing money.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-05-10 12:29pm

EA is just that Good at being Terrible. SWTOR, a miserable trainwreck as released, is making the considerable bank. And they managed to cut their fixed costs down to (I assume) a fraction of what it was with their mega-server merges. They can shit-out hilariously low quality costumes, lightsabers, and other shit like mounts and decorations and just make bank. Even without the lootbox shit. There's a lightsaber staff thingy they released a couple weeks/months ago that was like 5200 coins. That's ~$52US. There were tons on the auction house (going for hundreds of millions of credits). Just selling ONE of those probably pushed the time/money spent into the black.

They have so many avenues to make money. Though it makes perfect sense for them to fight this on all fronts because it's another layer of money on top of their original The Sims setup where they make "Free Mod" quality assets and sell them for cash. Now they can hide those low quality assets under a gambling system, making you spend more money on the HOPE you get that unlock.

EDIT: Fuck man, remember when innovation in video games was about like..... Havok? or laughably bad AI? I know EA was never about that, but other people?

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by Esquire » 2018-05-10 10:04pm

Frankly, if I were Steam (/EA, and whoever else), I'd just write off Belgium entirely given that regulatory environment (or else filter available content by IP, but there will definitely be lootbox-enabled games that slip through whatever filter they set up and I don't know enough about international video game finances to make that cost-benefit assessment). It's too small of a market to be worth placating, unless the wider EU gets involved. Not that EA isn't run by a bunch of dicks, just that corporations' whole deal is to make a lot of money and lootboxes clearly do that, annoying as they are.

EDIT: Belgium. Not the Netherlands. It's been a very long day.
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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-05-11 12:44am

Disabling microtransactions just in Belgium might run into problems with consumer protection, false advertising laws or the EU's push for a single digital market. Not releasing at all in Belgium would get lots of people who hate lootboxes to start asking about if the game is released in Belgium. If not, they won't buy it.

It seems likely that the EU would get involved.


Also Techdirt thinks that lots of gamers are unhappy with lootboxes.
Gaming Industry And Game Consumers On A Collision Course Over Loot Boxes
If you're a gamer, you know all about loot boxes. We haven't covered them or the associated controversy here, as both are slightly outside of the usual topics we cover. But we do in fact cover digital marketplaces and how companies and industries react to market forces and it's becoming more clear that the gaming industry and the gaming public are on something of a collision course over loot boxes.

As a primer, a loot box is a digital randomized thing, typically purchased in-game and resulting in a random reward of in-game content. Some content is more valuable than others, leading to some referring to loot boxes as a form of gambling, particularly when some of the game content can provide benefits to players in multiplayer settings. Overwatch popularized loot boxes somewhat in 2016, although mobile games have used some flavor of this kind of monetization for pretty much ever. The gaming public never really liked this concept, with many arguing that it breaks in-game competition by giving players willing to pay for loot boxes an advantage. But the loot box fervor hit its pique after the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, with EA being forced to massively alter how its loot boxes worked in game. Since then, loot boxes are a topic of consumer backlash as a general rule.

Making it somewhat strange, therefore, that the gaming industry seems to want to embrace loot boxes as its dominant business model.
With all the controversy, scrutiny, and international regulation randomized video game loot boxes are facing these days, you might think the practice of charging players for a chance at unknown in-game items might be set for a precipitous decline. On the contrary, though, one analyst sees spending on loot boxes increasing by over 62 percent in the next four years to become a $47 billion piece of the industry. By then, loot boxes will represent over 29 percent of all spending on digital games, the analyst said, up from just under 25 percent currently.

In a newly published forecast of the global game market, Juniper Research concedes that developers are "effectively encouraging a form of in-game gambling" with loot boxes and using that addictive potential to "extend both the lifecycle and engagement of games titles to their audience." These kinds of non-traditional money-making techniques are a practical necessity for developers squeezed by increasing costs and stagnant or declining up-front game prices, Juniper says.
Whatever your opinion of loot boxes, it should be clear that there is trouble on the horizon. Individual opinions will vary, but it seems clear that the majority of gamers are strongly against loot boxes, and that majority is very, very loud. Put another way, the vocal reaction to loot boxes is almost universally negative, with barely anyone at all praising their use in games. The market is sending the gaming industry a very clear message and the industry has apparently decided to place an awful lot of poker chips in dismissing that message.

Even governments are getting in on the backlash, actually, for a variety of reasons. Some seek to protect consumers from blatant attempts to extract more revenue from them by gamemakers, while others want loot boxes regulated as a form of gambling.

Yet the gaming industry is so all-in on this that Juniper thinks both the public and governments will allow loot boxes to exist merely because gamemakers are making so much money off of them right now.
"Whilst some restrictions may be put in place by government and regulatory bodies, the practice is unlikely to be banned outright simply due to the effect it would have on the games industry as a whole," Juniper writes in a recent white paper on the subject. And while platforms like Steam have recently cracked down on third-party "skin gambling" sites, Juniper argues they've resisted calls to ban skin trading altogether for the simple reason that they make too much money from their five-percent transaction fee.
That all works at the governmental level, where regulatory capture is indeed a thing and monied interests likely will indeed sway politicians, but the market forces in the public are another matter. Already the public has thought of loot boxes as generally abusive of the industry. Free to play mobile games are one thing, but the moment EA tried this in a paid-for console game, the shit hit the fan.

Loot boxes aren't the only business model available to the gaming industry, but they are fairly unique in how disliked they are. If the gaming industry doesn't correct course soon, we could easily see a slowdown in an industry otherwise primed for massive growth.
At this point, I'm expecting EA to force lootboxes upon Anthem (the only game on their coming soon page). Then, when that fails due to the backlash, EA kills Bioware.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-05-11 02:11pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2018-05-11 12:44am
At this point, I'm expecting EA to force lootboxes upon Anthem (the only game on their coming soon page). Then, when that fails due to the backlash, EA kills Bioware.
Bioware is already a hallowed out husk since SWTOR. I don't know if there's still an original employee left. I think someone, on this forum, said the former president was doing self-help seminars now or something crazy like that. Supposedly Andromeda was cobbled together from 3 or so rookie teams with little experience both in the industry and working like they did. I'm honestly surprised the game shipped as complete as it did.

But yes, it wouldn't surprise me to see EA finally plug the plug on Bioware. It's basically just giving an official time-of-death at this point.

And it all fits EAs system. I think the ONLY reason they even bother releasing new games is for the $60 price tag, but more about being able to brag about "pushing units." Just giving themselves happy endings in their jerk-fests about loot box transactions doesn't feed their ego as much as "I just pushed out X million launch copies."

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-09-13 02:17pm

There has been some progress:

Blizzard has disabled purchasing lootboxes in HOTS and Overwatch, but not Hearthstone. No replacement system, so it looks like they want players angry. They say they disagree with how the Belgian Gaming Commission has interpreted Belgian law.

Similar move by 2K games. Except they outright say that they want people to contact the Belgian government to get the law changed. They also have said that microtransactions are an unfortunate reality of modern gaming.

But the big piece of progress is that EA has decided that it won't comply with the law when it comes to its FIFA games. They have volunteered to be the first company dragged into court over lootboxes.

EA may go to court over loot boxes in Belgium
After the Belgian Gaming Commission found loot boxes to be a violation of existing national anti-gambling laws, companies like Blizzard and Valve pulled the boxes from their games in the country. But one company has yet to comply: EA.

In April, when the BGC finished its investigation into gaming loot boxes, EA was one of the companies mentioned as being in violation - specifically, its Ultimate Team card packs in FIFA 18 and upcoming release 19. Unlike other companies called out by Belgium, EA has not pulled these from 18, nor has it given any indication it will do so for FIFA 19.

As reported (and run through Google Translate) by the Dutch outlet Nieuwsblad, EA is currently under criminal investigation by the Brussels public prosecutor's office (by request of the BGC) due to its refusal to remove these loot boxes from its games.

Based on past statements (such as CEO Andrew Wilson's assertion in May), it appears EA is ready and waiting for a legal battle. The BGC determined that loot boxes fell under an existing gambling law, but a court challenge could reverse that decision. In that case, BGC general director Peter Naessens told Nieuwsblad that the commission will pursue efforts to change the law so that loot boxes are included again.
So it looks like EA is scared of what Disney can do to them, but not a Belgian criminal investigation.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-09-13 02:25pm

Is that across the board, or just in European servers?
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-09-13 02:40pm

The changes are only for players in Belgium and the Netherlands.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-09-13 03:27pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2018-09-13 02:17pm
Blizzard has disabled purchasing lootboxes in HOTS and Overwatch[/url], but not Hearthstone. No replacement system, so it looks like they want players angry. They say they disagree with how the Belgian Gaming Commission has interpreted Belgian law.
Just purchasing? I am completely OK with this since I've never bought one. I will need to load up HotS (as I haven't in a while) to see the changes. But Blizzard can still make money by selling characters and skins for money and XP boosters. They've been doing this already with many new releases. For instance, Whitemane's first set of skins can only be obtained via cash monies. Their original intent after the big change to split the line between "grind it or buy it" is slowly going away.

And really, I have few problems with adults paying thousands for loot boxes in a F2P MOBA. What kills me is games like Battlefront where upgrades are locked behind an atrocious grind to push you to spend money (to gamble, not even to unlock) in a game that costs 60 fucking dollars.
Similar move by 2K games. Except they outright say that they want people to contact the Belgian government to get the law changed. They also have said that microtransactions are an unfortunate reality of modern gaming.
I would argue here, but I can't complain too much about the idea of "grind it or buy it."

The thing here is really, it's an unfortunate side affect of how certain publishers have decided modern gaming needs to be and have thus based their business model on it. This is not just a natural evolution of the medium. Otherwise all AAA companies would follow this or tank. There are companies and games released constantly today that do not dive into cash grabs and still make a killing.

Why are video games so fucking special here? Why do publishers get to say THEIR form of entertainment has to rely on a system no one else can gouge this way on (yet still somehow make money)? No one sells an Avenger's DVD that pops up a menu to say "spend $5 to roll dice and maybe unlock Iron Man in the movie you just bought."

And I can see why Blizzard (read: goddamn Activision) and valve can cut their losses here and EA can't. The former have much less money tied into it than EA does.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by The Jester » 2018-09-13 11:14pm

TheFeniX wrote:
2018-09-13 03:27pm
The thing here is really, it's an unfortunate side affect of how certain publishers have decided modern gaming needs to be and have thus based their business model on it. This is not just a natural evolution of the medium. Otherwise all AAA companies would follow this or tank. There are companies and games released constantly today that do not dive into cash grabs and still make a killing.
I disagree with this. I don't think it's something that specific publishers deemed so but a result from a market that has shown that randomised product is more profitable (and more consistently profitable) than other methods of monetisation. While not everyone is going to take the same position--and indeed some publishers understand the risks of the bad will generated by such practices--it's inevitable that a number of companies are going to take the route that's proven more profitable. Some companies may even see it as mandatory given the responsibility to their shareholders, regardless of the personal feelings of everyone working at the company (at all levels).

One of my biggest annoyances with people arguing against lootboxes (or microtransactions) though, is trying to show through example that lootboxes are unnecessary. Yes, there certainly has been recent games that didn't require such monetisation practices. Unfortunately, anybody familiar with corporate projects knows that they're often troubled and it's nigh impossible to determine their success from the outset because there are often large uncertainties well beyond their control. When you have millions of dollars on the line along with people's jobs and livelihoods, executives tend to get nervous and want to hedge against that. If they can reduce the risks by implementing practices that are proven more profitable, some are going to take that option. It doesn't matter that someone else has been successful by not doing so, they're going to go by their own data and what it tells them to do.

I'm not saying the practice is good or justified. I certainly don't believe that. I also don't agree with the nonsense PR that publishers often put out. But honestly, I don't think they agree with it either. I think it's a situation where hands are forced and unless something happens legislatively, it's going to persist.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-09-14 01:48am

TheFeniX wrote:
2018-09-13 03:27pm
bilateralrope wrote:
2018-09-13 02:17pm
Blizzard has disabled purchasing lootboxes in HOTS and Overwatch[/url], but not Hearthstone. No replacement system, so it looks like they want players angry. They say they disagree with how the Belgian Gaming Commission has interpreted Belgian law.
Just purchasing? I am completely OK with this since I've never bought one. I will need to load up HotS (as I haven't in a while) to see the changes. But Blizzard can still make money by selling characters and skins for money and XP boosters. They've been doing this already with many new releases. For instance, Whitemane's first set of skins can only be obtained via cash monies. Their original intent after the big change to split the line between "grind it or buy it" is slowly going away.
I haven't heard anything about any replacement way for Belgian player to buy anything that's currently lootbox only.
I would argue here, but I can't complain too much about the idea of "grind it or buy it."
The problem is that the grind has been designed to encourage people to buy lootboxes. Including things like nerfing xp gains on release day so that reviewers didn't get to see what the grind was really like until after the reviews were published.
The thing here is really, it's an unfortunate side affect of how certain publishers have decided modern gaming needs to be and have thus based their business model on it. This is not just a natural evolution of the medium. Otherwise all AAA companies would follow this or tank. There are companies and games released constantly today that do not dive into cash grabs and still make a killing.
They aren't happy with a lot of money when they can try for all the money.
Why are video games so fucking special here? Why do publishers get to say THEIR form of entertainment has to rely on a system no one else can gouge this way on (yet still somehow make money)? No one sells an Avenger's DVD that pops up a menu to say "spend $5 to roll dice and maybe unlock Iron Man in the movie you just bought."
Because the law hasn't caught up to the technology yet.
And I can see why Blizzard (read: goddamn Activision) and valve can cut their losses here and EA can't. The former have much less money tied into it than EA does.
Last I heard, FIFA makes EA more money than every other game they sell combined.

As for Valve, they seem to have accepted that lootboxes are going to be illegal in some countries. The business model of Artefact is going to be selling cards in lootboxes, then letting players trade them over the Steam market. So they just need lootboxes to remain legal in one jurisdiction and they can rely on people attempting to profit from buying lootboxes and selling the contents.

I will note that Valve is privately owned, instead of having to answer to shareholders.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-09-14 11:39am

The Jester wrote:
2018-09-13 11:14pm
While not everyone is going to take the same position--and indeed some publishers understand the risks of the bad will generated by such practices--it's inevitable that a number of companies are going to take the route that's proven more profitable. Some companies may even see it as mandatory given the responsibility to their shareholders, regardless of the personal feelings of everyone working at the company (at all levels).
I never said I don't understand it, but I don't have to respect it or become part of the problem.
One of my biggest annoyances with people arguing against lootboxes (or microtransactions) though, is trying to show through example that lootboxes are unnecessary. Yes, there certainly has been recent games that didn't require such monetisation practices. Unfortunately, anybody familiar with corporate projects knows that they're often troubled and it's nigh impossible to determine their success from the outset because there are often large uncertainties well beyond their control. When you have millions of dollars on the line along with people's jobs and livelihoods, executives tend to get nervous and want to hedge against that. If they can reduce the risks by implementing practices that are proven more profitable, some are going to take that option. It doesn't matter that someone else has been successful by not doing so, they're going to go by their own data and what it tells them to do.
None of what you posted proves microtransactions are necessary as certain publishers have attempted to make us believe. You've merely shown they are more profitable, which I wouldn't argue against.

And honestly, microtransactions in the vein of "pay $3 for this character skin" is massively preferable to what's talked about here. Instead of just leaning on the human's desire to collect shiny things, they have now found a way to expand that into straight gambling of "pay $3 for a box that contains 1 out of 1,000 different items, most of them NOT what you want. Please buy more?"
bilateralrope wrote:
2018-09-14 01:48am
The problem is that the grind has been designed to encourage people to buy lootboxes. Including things like nerfing xp gains on release day so that reviewers didn't get to see what the grind was really like until after the reviews were published.
True, I was talking more about F2P games. I think the addition of microtransactions in a $60 title at release is a scam. X months/years after release in another story. We're honestly at the point where overcharging for ported mappacks from older titles (Hello original CoD:MW maps, we missed you) are the better option for the consumer.
They aren't happy with a lot of money when they can try for all the money.
And I laugh, because the destructive corporate desire for "maximum profits at all costs" is shit on in pretty much any other area of economics, but I routinely hear from those poor destitute publishers that if they didn't function this way, they'd be out of business tomorrow because they can't make money off just $60 sales alone.
Because the law hasn't caught up to the technology yet.
My hyperbole is more focused on publishers (with fanboys to back them up) crying about how hard it is for them to make money, but your point is valid.

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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-09-14 12:07pm

TheFeniX wrote:
2018-09-14 11:39am
I think the addition of microtransactions in a $60 title at release is a scam.
I'm trying to adjust how I refer to games:
Buy to play: The standard business model. Buy a game, maybe buy its DLC. Then you have the entire game.
Free to start: Most people call them free to play but that hides the fact that the developer/publisher want you buying microtransactions.
Fee to Pay: It's a Free to Start game, except you have to pay to start it and to play DLC.

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The Jester
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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by The Jester » 2018-09-14 12:41pm

TheFeniX wrote:
2018-09-14 11:39am
I never said I don't understand it, but I don't have to respect it or become part of the problem.
Sure. But it's going to keep going regardless.
None of what you posted proves microtransactions are necessary as certain publishers have attempted to make us believe. You've merely shown they are more profitable, which I wouldn't argue against.
You mistake my point. I'm not trying to prove they're necessary. I certainly don't buy the PR. Just pointing out that an argument that contains survivorship bias ("game X was successful without microtransactions") isn't very strong and that corporations are going to amorally respond to the incentives placed before them. Personally, I believe that all product that's sold with random distributions should be regulated. That would also include the TCG world. (And yes, I recognise that would probably crush some already hurting LGSs.)

bilateralrope
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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-09-16 12:23am

Now Finland is starting an investigation into lootboxes. I don't have any english sources other than this Jim Sterling video. Here is the untranslated article.

bilateralrope
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Re: Belgium Considering Ban Loot Box Gambling

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-09-18 12:18am

More progress:

15 European gambling regulators unite to tackle loot box threat - Along with Washington State
Less than a week after Belgium began a criminal investigation into FIFA's loot boxes, 15 gambling regulators from Europe and one from the US have together announced they will "address the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling".

The collaborative effort, organised at the 2018 Gambling Regulators European Forum, includes signatories from the UK, France, Ireland, Spain, and even the US (via the Washington State Gambling Commission).

The key focus for the parties involved appears to be "tackling unlicensed third-party websites offering illegal gambling linked to popular video games". If you're wondering what this is, think back to skin betting site CS:GO Lounge, which allowed users to bet real money on a pot of their CS:GO items until Valve cracked down on the site in 2016. Many of these still exist, and regulators want both the video games industry and technology platforms "to play their part in helping crack down on these websites".

But the investigation won't stop there. The regulators stated games providers must "ensure that features within games, such as loot boxes, do not constitute gambling under national laws". This indicates more countries will now examine whether loot boxes can be classed as gambling.

The effort appears to be motivated by concerns about consumer protection and the safety of children online. Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, said regulators "want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe".

"Unlicensed websites offering skins betting can pop up at any time and children could be gambling with money intended for computer game products," McArthur stated. "We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected."

Signatories to the "declaration of gambling regulators on their concerns related to the blurring of lines between gambling and gaming".

Austria: Alfred Hacker, Director, Federal Ministry of Finance
Czech Republic: Karel Blaha, Director of the State Oversight Over Gambling Department
France: Charles Coppolani, Chair of the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority
Gibraltar: Andrew Lyman, Executive Director, Gambling Division, HM Government of Gibraltar
Ireland: Brendan Mac Namara, Principal Officer, Gambling Policy Division, Department of Justice and Equality of Ireland
Isle of Man: Steve Brennan, Chief Executive, Gambling Supervision Commission
Jersey: Jason Lane, Chief Executive, Jersey Gambling Commission
Latvia: Signe Birne, Director of Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of Latvia
Malta: Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer, Malta Gaming Authority
The Netherlands: Jan Suyver, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Gambling Authority
Norway: Henrik Nordal, Director Deputy General, Norwegian Gaming Authority
Poland: Paweł Gruza, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Finance
Portugal: Teresa Monteiro, Vice-President of Turismo de Portugal, I.P
Spain: Juan Espinosa García, CEO, Directorate General for Gambling Regulation
Washington State: David Trujillo, Director, Washington State Gambling Commission
UK: Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission

Although no solid action has yet been taken, the international effort signals a major shift in the loot box regulation debate. The move comes in the wake of a crackdown on loot boxes by several European countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands, indicating pressure is mounting on publishers who continue to include loot boxes in their games.

The wording of the statement also shows regulators expect game companies to be more cooperative. In context, this is probably a direct response to Blizzard's recent statement claiming it disagreed with the Belgian Gaming Commission's "interpretation of Belgian law," and EA's complete refusal to remove loot boxes from FIFA in Belgium.

The international nature of the agreement is also significant. Previous attempts at regulation have been taken by individual countries, while this approach may bring about coordinated and wide-spread regulatory changes: ones which could potentially be harsher than those taken by individual nations. It hints some countries which previously stated they did not consider loot boxes to be gambling, such as the UK, may now re-evaluate the issue. Will we soon see more countries change their position?
Loot Boxes: Result of Australian investigation published
September 17, 2018. End of June, Australia started an investigation on loot boxes after an academic publication indicated that loot boxes are akin to gambling. The investigation was undertaken by the Environment and Communications References Committee. Its results were presented today in a 30 minutes long public hearing by lead investigators Dr David Zendle and Dr Paul Cairns and by means of a document which summarizes the outcome.

I. The outcome of the investigation

The outcome of the investigation is summarized as follows:

Our large-scale study (n=7,422) found important links between loot box spending and problem gambling. The more severe gamers' problem gambling was, the more likely they were to spend large amounts of money on loot boxes.

These results strongly support claims that loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling.

These results also suggest that there is a serious risk for loot boxes to cause gambling-related harm. More specifically, they suggest that either:

Loot boxes act as a gateway to problem gambling amongst gamers.

Loot boxes provide games companies with an unregulated way of exploiting gambling disorders amongst their customers.

Given the relationship between loot box use and problem gambling outlined above, we recommend that

Games containing loot boxes carry parental advisories

Games containing loot boxes carry descriptors that indicate the presence of in-game gambling content.

Serious consideration is given to restricting games that contain loot boxes to players of legal gambling age

The following statement should also be mentioned:

Industry statements typically disassociate loot boxes from gambling. They instead highlight similarities between loot boxes and harmless products like trading cards or Kinder Surprise eggs. As the ESRC put it: “we do not consider loot boxes to be gambling … loot boxes are more comparable to baseball cards, where there is an element of surprise and you always get something.”.

By contrast, researchers argue that loot boxes share so many formal similarities with other forms of gambling that they meet the ‘psychological criteria' to be considered gambling themselves. These researchers further suggest that buying loot boxes may therefore lead to problem gambling amongst gamers.

These results support the position of academics who claim that loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling. Spending large amounts of money on loot boxes was associated with problematic levels of spending on other forms of gambling. This is what one would expect if loot boxes psychologically constituted a form of gambling. It is not what one would expect if loot boxes were, instead, psychologically comparable to baseball cards.

The argument that loot box are similar to trading cards and Kinder surprise eggs is one of the main arguments used by the video gaming industry in order to point out that loot boxes are not gambling. However, the argument does not fly in many jurisdictions. It was recently rejected by the Dutch and French gambling regulator (despite the latter came to the conclusion that loot boxes - while allegedly problematic - legally do not qualify as gambling in France). In Germany, on the other hand, several regulators used the argument to support their position that loot boxes are not gambling.

II. Additional comments

Loot boxes and similar mechanisms have been debated in Australia for quite a while already (starting with the rise of virtual casino games and social games around 2010 and thus way before the 2017/2018 loot box debate). The current study does not involve a legal assessment of loot boxes under Australian gambling laws. We carried out two surveys on the legal aspects of loot boxes in Australia. Both came to the conclusion that enforcement action from a gambling law perspective is currently unlikely although not completely excluded. The most relevant Australian gambling law is the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (cth). The objective of this legislation is to prevent "problem gambling" within Australia and it is primarily targeted at traditional gambling activities, i.e. bets or plays made with the intention of winning money that can be "cashed out". As players are typically not able to "cash out" the items they receive from loot boxes, the prevailing opinion in Australia deems the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (cth) not to be applicable. However, like in many countries, the situation is unclear in terms of loot boxes mechanisms which technically allow off-platform trading and thus a cash out through the backdoor (often by violating the game publisher's EULA). In the past there has been some controversy even amongst Australian gambling regulators whether or not loot boxes or similar mechanisms can technically fall under applicable gambling laws. Nevertheless, no enforcement action took place so far. It should also be noted that there have been several attempts over the last years to amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (cth) to extent its application to games which grant virtual items as prizes. So far all attempts failed. Without such an amendment of the current Australian gambling laws, enforcement action in terms of loot boxes is currently unlikely.

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