US State Senator says loot boxes/microtransactions are predatory

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There’s something similar coming out of Belgium.

They tend to be talking about random boxes which you buy with real money, but could contain anything.

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Yup. These things are coming to light in several places and that’s good. It really isn’t a problem if there are some guaranteed items + cosmetics etc. but in games that are based on hard vertical progression, if you have to purchase the said lootboxes in order to progress at a reasonable pace, that is a major issue. I don’t think Eve Online has anything to worry about here.

On the side note, I already stay away from such games as described above. Just don’t buy them, don’t play them.

Forgot to mention, this problem can be severely accentuated when the kind of games that use paid for RNG lootbox systems for vertical progression are played by minors who are too often completely oblivious to issues of self control. And anyone can make all sorts of arguments that its on the parents / guardians, but how many parents here who have kids that are somewhat smart haven’t had their kid weasel and figure out how to make purchses on their CCs against the parents wishes ? Kids are kids and will do stupid kid things, for example: Spending way too much money on lootboxes.

The Jimquisition

“Thank god for me.”

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I completely agree that loot boxes in games are stupid.

But there is one thing that is bothering me. Magic the gathering and similar trading card games did this for decades and no one talked about gambling. So why was that always ok and why is everyone now acting like this is something new?

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They should have banned microtransactions before Hilmar priced monocles at 70$.

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magic has a secondary market, Players have also more or less figured out the rarity of cards, and with the internet these days market value is pretty easy to determine. If you want to build a deck it is almost always cost prohibitive to buy packs till you have the cards you want, better off just buying the cards from resellers. They also offer fixed decks where you know exactly what you get.

In most games anything from microtransactions is stuck on your account. With lootboxes there is no direct way to value any one item. you might get it in your first lootbox, or your 1000th. I really like the system eve has where you can buy plex from other players and then use it for game time or cosmetics. My understanding is EA tied progression to the lootbox system and that sounds pretty fishy, I haven’t looked into the details so I can’t really comment on it.

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So you can’t even trade that stuff you gamble for? Ok, now I get the hate

I suspect there’s also the ease of buying them.

Booster packs could only be bought in a store. Loot boxes are only a click away.

Interesting observation with Magic the Gathering boosters. Interesting how some things get so much outrage and others it’s okay. To me they are like pull tabs. I’m not an addicted gambler either so there’s that

The way gamers talk about loot boxes, you’d think they are begging legislators to treat Mario like he’s Joe Camel

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As far as I know, the point with Magic and physical other trading card game is that even if you don’t get what you want, you can sell it back tos omeone, and conversely, you could buy the cards from someone: they’re collectable and tradeable, so you’re not really facing total loss nor need to take endless chances buying random packages.

Yet in videogames, you’re stuck with whatever you get from the lootbox, if it’s junk it just piles up and you can’t trade it, and there’s no way to bypass the random boxes if you’re looking for a specific item. So you’re just wasting money for a random chance to win or not win, and many will end in total loss. Also since the contents are virtual items, the player doesn’t owns them; the player is only granted (but not guaranteed) to access them and use them. Those items are lost if (when) the game servers are shut down for the last time.

As Alan Parsons Project would say, once your virtual world shuts down, you can’t take it with you…

On a second thought, isn’t that making it even more gambling? I mean if it is bound to an account you know you just pour money into a game but there is no possibility to get it out. On the other hand with a Magic booster pack you could get lucky and get a card you could sell for more money than the booster costs.

My friend used to play tons of magic, and usually bought cards straight off. But she also noted the odds of getting valuable cards in the end made the price of boosters about the same anyway, it is really just a matter of being willing to price and sell the cards to buy others.

My issue with boxes in games are as everyone has said, you are stuck with the rubbish you do not want, you cannot trade it to someone who wanted it to get something you wanted in return. The biggest issue of all is if the game relies on them for progress, I will not even play those games.

I am however, ok with loot boxes in games like Overwatch, they are 100% cosmetic, they do not affect game play, and you accumulate a lot of them over time for free just by playing.

Yep. It is predatory.

All forms of dlc these days generally are unless it’s free of charge post launch.
You have disc locked content which is things already finished on disk you have to pay for. (Paying twice)
Dlc which is generally cut content from the base game or things they couldn’t finish by launch.
Pre orders which give giant advantages and unobtainable items based on retailer (a physical form of net neutrality where you have to go to a certain retailer)
Even patches, you pay for a broken or unfinished game they try to polish post launch
(Look at gearbox and aliens colonial Marines which was actually a case of false advertisement and embezzlement by Randy pitchford that he got sued over. Entire portions of the game advertised as live gameplay footage and in commercials were never in the actual game)

Gambling and micro transactions and the above are all in the same ugly cancerous family.

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Why though? In the late 90s on n64 I had a game called turok ragewars. You could unlock alternate skins/versions of the same character by completing certain levels.
Syphon filter omega strain in 2004 had hundreds of guns, and a character creator and you could customize your character at anytime with hundreds of jackets, shirts, vests, pants, boots, gasmasks, helmets, hats, face paints, goggles, armor, etc. And each item usually had several colors. 2006-2007 you have rainbow six with separately paintable armor and maybe 50+ separate camo schemes and at max level a custom camo creator where you could pick template and any colors you want.

Now in 2017 I’m supposed to pay for cosmetic choices that should be included in the base game? Customization is one of the easiest things any developer can implement and it’s been done for over a decade in a multitude of ways. There’s no reason for anyone to charge extra now for basic character features.

Why can’t you just pick whatever costume you want whenever?

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Yeah I get that. But that is just a shitty microtransaction trick to make the stuff you actually want more expensive so you pay more than you would otherwise.

Still I think the gambling argument is a bit a stretch and a lot more valid for stuff like Magic where you can get the money back.

Anyway, I also don’t understand why someone would even buy such a game. Sounds like p2w extreme to me. I mean there are tons of actually good games out there

I have turok ragewars, you got things by playing, the same as you do with Overwatch (only with a choice to pay if you want) I have never bought a single box, and have most of the things I want anyway. That is why I am ok with it. It is when you MUST buy boxes as the only way to get it, and if it is required for progression that it bothers me. In the case of OW, the game is playable with no subscription, so the boxes serve as alternate income which is purely optional, and gives you something. There is a reason for it, the reason being that instead of a subscription, they can elicit donations by offering things people want, but is not pay to win.

Models and textures now are also far more complex than they were in the past and they are constantly making new ones for OW which money pays for. Making small textures for basic models was easy (I did it) making them now takes far more time. Even though free costumes would be nice, the fact that it is an income generator that you choose to pay or not that allows them to offer more stuff. So that is why I find it tolerable. It just depends on how they handle it. Remember, I said I was ok with only certain games because of how it is done, I am not a fan of boxes as a whole, and generally hate them if mishandled. I also refuse to play any game that has any pay to win mechanics.

Sure there is a cost, a random result, and the random result determines the value, however there is also an effort involved in selling the cards. Card shops aren’t going to buy them at full market value. Buying a pack at a time it is probably a losing run. if you buy a box or case at a time you get the bulk discount and there you might break even or make some money. Buying wholesale volume the profit might even start to make sense.

I don’t think a gambler is going to take the time to place a large order, open and sort packs, then put the cards up on ebay. At scale you are more running a business than gambling. Seems like buying scratch off lottery tickets, betting on the race/game, or playing whatever game they like in a casino is going to be more of a gambling fix.

of course there is some thrill in opening packs that likely hits the same part of the brain as gambling, but I have trouble seeing it as a gambling transaction. I think the main difference is if you get down money then there isn’t really a chance to win big and get it all back. If you go down $100 and try to win it back by betting $200 the next time it can snowball out of control pretty quickly. If you were gambling on magic cards and are down, there just aren’t odds available that you will catch up on the next pack.

Also if comparing to loot boxes there should be way less “just one more” feeling as you can buy the cards directly on the secondary market. If you are chasing one card it should hopefully make sense to just buy it, rather than throw money at packs till you get it. With loot boxes, if you didn’t get the thing you wanted, are you going to buy a few more?

More on the Belgium front.

Refer:
Belgium Denounces Loot Boxes as Gambling; Hawaiian Legislator Calls Them ‘Predatory’

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