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Old 11-24-2017, 10:16 PM  
oaklandhater oaklandhater is offline
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Video game Legislation

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertc.../#3a2e95a7cbcb

From Belgium To Hawaii, Potential 'Battlefront 2' Loot Box Legislation Would Be Complicated

I have lived through a lot of “yell a lot about video games” controversies in my time, but I have truly never seen anything like what’s currently happening in Star Wars Battlefront 2. I saw fans yell until the Mass Effect 3 ending was fixed through DLC. I saw fans yell until Diablo 3’s Auction House was killed. But I have never seen fans yell until not only were microtransactions stripped out of a game like Battlefront 2, but it called into question the predatory practices of the entire industry.

That’s precisely what’s starting to happen now, as this has moved beyond “EA did this annoying thing” and “this is genuinely something that needs to be looked at/regulated/banned.”

We are seeing this on the global stage, with Belgium recently making the argument that loot boxes in games are gambling, saying plainly “the combination of money and addiction is gambling." They haven't reached a legal conclusion yet on the matter (it was being misreported that they had), and have proposed no specific action yet, but the conversation is happening, and it’s been confirmed this movement was indeed inspired by Battlefront 2.


And here in the states, there was a televised press event in Hawaii addressing the Battlefront 2 situation specifically, with state reps calling the game “a Star Wars themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money.” They say they’re looking into legislation to avoid these games being sold to children, or to prevent the games from employing these kinds of randomized, gambling-inspired models in the first place.

I do find this sudden legislative interest in loot boxes a…little weird. Obviously, the practice has been going on the mobile market for ages, where kids almost play those games at a higher rate than core console titles at this point. And AAA games have had loot boxes for a while as well, started by Valve titles, boosted into the mainstream by Overwatch, and now infesting more or less every game on the market, in some capacity. So why draw the line at Battlefront 2? A few reasons, perhaps:

It’s been the loudest controversy of any of these dust-ups throughout the lifespan of loot boxes.
It’s Star Wars, a hugely popular IP usually marketed toward kids (the Hawaii rep compares it to Joe Camel selling cigarettes, which I'm sure Disney will love).
It’s a totally unavoidable system when you play the game. You can’t just ignore the “store” section, loot boxes are directly integrated into multiplayer progression. Purchased or “earned,” they are the only way to progress.
It’s encouraging purchases not just to look cool with skins, but to actually fight better with flat stat boosts. You feel you almost need to buy boxes (or grind crazily) to keep up.
Still, if we’re talking about legislation, I’m not sure what legal bearing pay-to-win or loot-box-to-progress systems would have that would mean they’re treated somehow differently than say, Overwatch’s cosmetic loot boxes. The overall point seems to be that if you’re paying for loot boxes with randomized prizes, that’s enough, and would be included in whatever regulations are put in place.

There also seems to be some issue about the definition of gambling itself, which remains rooted in this idea that the items being gambled for must have a physical, monetary value. That’s ultimately what we’ve heard out of Belgium, despite all the bluster, and while that might apply to something like CS:GO skins, Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Star Cards almost certainly wouldn’t meet that definition, if that’s the only way you classify gambling.

But perhaps the definition of gambling has to change, because there is simply no other word for what loot boxes are. When gambling was just…gambling, there was no such thing as a “virtual item” that was unable to be assigned a real-life dollar value. And yet, clearly people value these things, as they’re willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for the chance at getting them. What is the difference, exactly, between spending $2,000 on a slot machine to win a cash prize, and spending $2,000 on loot boxes in pursuit of a legendary item? Even if you cannot sell that item for cash, clearly, to you, it has a value of at least $2,000, and now EA or Activision or Valve has $2,000 of your cash to prove it.

There’s the old “trading card” argument where if loot boxes start being banned or regulated or unable to be sold to minors, shouldn’t card packs full of random rarity cards follow those same rules? To that I say, sure, why not? Do you know why I buy so many loot boxes and treasure chests and hero crystals in games now? Because I spent my entire childhood buying packs of Star Wars, Magic and Pokémon cards in search of the rarest ones. There was no reddit back then to vent about drop rates so this wasn’t a widely discussed issue, but it’s still prepping kids for gambling, and I would not shed a tear if trading cards were lumped into these regulations. And many of those cards do have a monetary value attached to them, unlike these virtual items.

But for games specifically, the most devastating thing legislation could potentially do is declare that if any game had “purchasable, randomized items of differing rarity,” that would mean the game could not be sold to children, at all. This would likely force the ESRB to react accordingly, and take these E or T rated games and make them M, if not AO, an 18+ rating which is the kiss of death for any title as most storefronts won’t carry them. Is this possible? Could the governments of the US or Europe or Asia actually kill loot boxes outright?

It seems far-fetched, but if there’s a glimmer of hope I can see here, it’s that this issue can simultaneously combine A) video game moral panic, which used to be about game violence, but could instead turn to games promoting childhood gambling with B) a gaming public that mostly wants loot boxes to die or be regulated out of existence, unlike when gamers pushed back against the idea that games inspire real-life violence. In this case, these two groups want the same thing for once, and it’s only the publishers that are holding each other close, hoping their newfound cash cow isn’t erased because a few of them took it too far.

It’s just hard for me to see this coming to pass. If loot boxes were made illegal or heavily regulated, that could ravage the profits of both the core gaming and mobile markets to a degree that would make corporate interests foam at the mouth and do everything in their power to lobby so this didn’t happen. And honestly, this is not as black and white as Joe Camel selling chemically addictive, cancer-causing cigarettes to children. Keep in mind that half the industry has been fine with some amount of loot boxes to this point, but it’s when there are extreme cases like Battlefront 2 that things get escalated to this level.

This is an extremely complicated issue. I have a hunch that despite all this smoke, there will be very little fire when it comes to passing actual laws that protect consumers or children against predatory loot box practices. I just don’t have that much faith in our government these days, frankly, that they’d be able to agree on something like that, particularly with billions in corporate profits hanging in the balance.

Not to say that the Battlefront 2 controversy means nothing. This is clearly more than just a shouting match. It is now a real, tangible risk to your game and company to push past an acceptable line for loot boxes and microtransactions, and not only will we see EA pull back after touching a hot stove, but other games will probably readjust to make sure to avoid accusations of pay-to-win, at the very least, which is where BF2 got into trouble first and foremost.

I would not be broken up if all loot boxes were banned from games tomorrow. But that seems unlikely, and compromises are messy and complicated, and ultimately I think it’s going to be mostly on publishers to self-regulate to avoid another fiasco like what we’ve seen here, rather than the government stepping up to make meaningful change.
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Old 11-24-2017, 10:17 PM   #2
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Good short summary
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Old 11-24-2017, 10:19 PM   #3
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How do some Right wingers/Leftist/Moderates feel about incoming Laws on gaming.


With some game companies using the same predatory techniques towards children and gambling addicts that casino's use.
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Old 11-24-2017, 11:50 PM   #4
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Belgium's definition of gambling is so wide to include pretty much everything.
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Old 11-25-2017, 12:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GloucesterChief View Post
Belgium's definition of gambling is so wide to include pretty much everything.
it's got to be fine-tuned but I think it's only a matter of time now till we start getting laws passed on this.
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Old 11-25-2017, 02:24 AM   #6
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even better video showing the history of the wilson lootbox and how they prey on people.


I hope they tax the shit out of these.
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Old 11-25-2017, 06:57 AM   #7
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it kinda is gambling, you dont know what you are going to get, something cool, or something shit. In some games, virtual pixel items run thousands and thousands of dollars and people can make really good money off stuff they open from loot crates (in certain games).

I dont like it, but as long as the items are cosmetics only, then if people want to open crates go for it.
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Old 11-25-2017, 07:17 AM   #8
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You are paying to get a chance at a random prize. I can see how this is called gambling.


Of course, they could hammer down on all the shitty toy vending machines too.
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:12 AM   #9
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You are paying to get a chance at a random prize. I can see how this is called gambling.


Of course, they could hammer down on all the shitty toy vending machines too.
True but unlike other forms of gambling you will always get something for playing rather than have the ability to lose. It might not be what you want but it is something.

As someone who is a big fan of a couple of free to play game I hope that the legislators do nothing or at least are smart enough to know the difference between free to play with microtransactions and pay to win games. There is a difference.
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oaklandhater View Post
How do some Right wingers/Leftist/Moderates feel about incoming Laws on gaming.


With some game companies using the same predatory techniques towards children and gambling addicts that casino's use.
This guy feels like as long as they don't mess with the N.E.S. or Super Nintendo, I won't be affected

But seriously, I am out of the modern gaming world so I don't know enough to have an opinion. But every now and again, I will get a hair up my butt to drag out one of my old units and play a little Contra or Super Tecmo Bowl
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:29 AM   #11
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True but unlike other forms of gambling you will always get something for playing rather than have the ability to lose. It might not be what you want but it is something.

As someone who is a big fan of a couple of free to play game I hope that the legislators do nothing or at least are smart enough to know the difference between free to play with microtransactions and pay to win games. There is a difference.
Microtransactions and pay to win are hurting video games. Why can't a company make a complete game for one price?
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:30 AM   #12
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This guy feels like as long as they don't mess with the N.E.S. or Super Nintendo, I won't be affected

But seriously, I am out of the modern gaming world so I don't know enough to have an opinion. But every now and again, I will get a hair up my butt to drag out one of my old units and play a little Contra or Super Tecmo Bowl
Great games. There is nothing like the classics.
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:57 AM   #13
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Microtransactions and pay to win are hurting video games. Why can't a company make a complete game for one price?
yep, and if you pay $50 for a game but there are already pre-placed DLC that you can buy from pretty much the get go, it's basically selling a partial game that you need to spend more on to complete. It used to be that you'd buy the full game and maybe 5-6 months down the road they'd release some larger expansion pack giving additional content, basically just extending the life of the game and breathing some new life into it. Now, it's a constant micro-transaction game and I know people who literally spend thousands on those little phone games. It's honestly unreal.
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:03 AM   #14
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No one is forcing them to play. Learn some self-control.
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:08 AM   #15
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Microtransactions and pay to win are hurting video games. Why can't a company make a complete game for one price?
Pay to win hurts more. I play Smite and Path of Exile both are free to play with microtransactions. You only pay for cosmetic changes though, you don't get any advantage from buying anything. You can play the whole game without purchasing a thing.

Star Wars Battlefront II is a pay to win game.
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