Australian gambling regulator: yes, loot boxes are gambling

midian182

Posts: 8,323   +103
Staff member

The united fight against loot boxes isn’t slowing down. Following the recent news that Belgium and Hawaii are looking to ban the practice, it seems that Australia is also investigating the controversial system.

Answering an inquiry from a redditor called -Caesar, Jarrod Wolfe, a strategic analyst in the Compliance Division of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation said that loot boxes do constitute gambling “by the definition of the Victorian Legislation.”

"We are currently engaging with interstate and international counterparts to progress wider policy changes and to modernize and inform both Federal and State-based legislation," wrote Wolfe. "We take on board responses from the community, such as your concerns, to ensure that our actions are reflective of the risks these products pose as well as the community’s expectation. Watching recent Reddit activity certainly indicates the majority of the gaming community is at odds with decisions made by certain companies."

Echoing the statements made by authorities in Belgium and Hawaii, Wolfe’s biggest issue is the way these ‘pay to win’ systems appear in games marketed at minors: "The normalization of gambling vernacular and mechanics targeted at vulnerable persons (minors) is not just morally reprehensible, but is also legally questionable."

While Wolfe did say that "enforcement is probably not an option" due to jurisdiction issues— if the entities are based overseas, the VCGLR lacks the necessary powers of enforcement —he did add that there could be ways to discourage the inclusion of loot boxes by working with other agencies, who could potentially limit the games’ audiences.

"For instance; if these companies want to include significant elements of gambling in their products then perhaps we should work with the Australian Classification Board to ensure than any product that does that and monetizes it gets an immediate R rating," he wrote. "I could imagine that this would send ripples through the industry and it would support the objectives of the Gambling Legislation to ensure minors are not encouraged to participate in gambling."

Ultimately, this shows that more countries and regulators are ready to take a stand against loot boxes. Bad news for publishers, but good news for gamers.

Check out Blizzard's view on loot boxes in the StarCraft II promo video below.

Permalink to story.

 

Nobina

Posts: 3,963   +4,553
Add another one to the group .... looks like a movement; finally, the 60's are back!
Don't get your hopes up yet. It is good lootboxes are getting noticed but it's not over by any means. EA pulled back on them because of the outrage but as soon as the dust settles they are likely to put them back in. If people continue to push against them only then theres a chance of EA abandoning gambling entirely.
 

BlueDrake

Posts: 378   +113
Don't get your hopes up yet. It is good lootboxes are getting noticed but it's not over by any means. EA pulled back on them because of the outrage but as soon as the dust settles they are likely to put them back in. If people continue to push against them only then theres a chance of EA abandoning gambling entirely.

I would assume people will continue fighting against it, because most are going to be in a state of lull after things die down. Just you have the vocal ones ready to point out the issues, obviously what the publishers were counting on was simply getting tired of hearing about it. You eventually get so tired of hearing the discussions, you would much rather walk away than be fighting against this problem.

Problem for EA specifically was, they tried it not only with Need for Speed but also an iconic IP. Which has people who would normally be confused and not understanding, actually taking notice as they see the outrage related to this IP. I would personally assume the general media and such, wouldn't even remotely bat an eye if this was yet another unknown IP to them. Not trying to say Need for Speed is unknown, but it's not on the massive scale of Star Wars.

I've pushed back against buying anything lately, that even has a hint of loot boxes in the system. Which obviously limits what new games I purchase, but it shows that it's a lost sale but that they remotely care. Where was the media responses during Shadow of War and Call of Duty's showing of loot boxes? Seems they don't care that much, only when a major IP and a known company are involved.

It was very telling that EA is on damage control, because they got their hand stuck in the cookie jar. Unwilling to let go of every last possible crumb. They make any excuse to throw business models at us, expecting things to stick and us to be willing sheep waiting to be herded. We got used to the season pass and other things before, why would it be any less to expect us to accept this? This was the straw that got the media's attention, hope this makes publishers think twice about pushing any further in this direction.
 

ghostf1re

Posts: 414   +265
Don't get your hopes up yet. It is good lootboxes are getting noticed but it's not over by any means. EA pulled back on them because of the outrage but as soon as the dust settles they are likely to put them back in. If people continue to push against them only then theres a chance of EA abandoning gambling entirely.

I would assume people will continue fighting against it, because most are going to be in a state of lull after things die down. Just you have the vocal ones ready to point out the issues, obviously what the publishers were counting on was simply getting tired of hearing about it. You eventually get so tired of hearing the discussions, you would much rather walk away than be fighting against this problem.

Problem for EA specifically was, they tried it not only with Need for Speed but also an iconic IP. Which has people who would normally be confused and not understanding, actually taking notice as they see the outrage related to this IP. I would personally assume the general media and such, wouldn't even remotely bat an eye if this was yet another unknown IP to them. Not trying to say Need for Speed is unknown, but it's not on the massive scale of Star Wars.

I've pushed back against buying anything lately, that even has a hint of loot boxes in the system. Which obviously limits what new games I purchase, but it shows that it's a lost sale but that they remotely care. Where was the media responses during Shadow of War and Call of Duty's showing of loot boxes? Seems they don't care that much, only when a major IP and a known company are involved.

It was very telling that EA is on damage control, because they got their hand stuck in the cookie jar. Unwilling to let go of every last possible crumb. They make any excuse to throw business models at us, expecting things to stick and us to be willing sheep waiting to be herded. We got used to the season pass and other things before, why would it be any less to expect us to accept this? This was the straw that got the media's attention, hope this makes publishers think twice about pushing any further in this direction.


I can't comment on Shadow of War, because I don't own the game, but in COD WWII, the loot boxes really aren't bad. Nothing in them is game changing. It's all cosmetic items. I can live with things like that. All of which can be unlocked sooner (through purchasing) or later (through grinding). None of which involves a pay to win situation. Now when it came to Infinite Warfare, that game had some pay to win situations with loot boxes. I was never a fan of that game to begin with. One way or another, you're absolutely right on the major Star Wars IP being the root of people pushing back. COD maybe big, but it's not Star Wars big.
 

Milkyjoe

Posts: 57   +43
Where will it stop, you could also say collecting those cards in packets is gambling.
 
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bexwhitt

Posts: 614   +345
It's the sort of overprotection the EU is all about, expect Europe to be all over this when the Brussels bureaucratic juggernaut gets out of first gear.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 13,141   +6,439
I for one will not buy a key to open a loot-box. It is a personal rebellion of mine against micro-transactions. And yes I have seen loot-boxes as gambling from the start. If you are stupid enough to loose all your money, that is your problem. I don't see an issue with gambling. I do see loot-boxes as a problem, infesting nearly all our online games.
 

SirChocula

Posts: 174   +183
Where will it stop, you could also say collecting those cards in packets is gambling.
Close but respectfully, your logic (and many others) in this case is a bit flawed. Collectible card games need the actual cards to play the actual game. While it does contain gambling elements (hoping for a rare pull, believe me, I've played MTG for an extremely long time), you're actually getting a component that is needed. Loot boxes, is just pay to win...especially in an already full priced game while not absolutely needing them to play the actual game.

I'm okay with loot boxes being purely aesthetic items. While I prefer to not see them there and would rather have a system of progression to unlock cool new outfits, etc, I can tolerate it not affecting gamplay, albeit still a shady practice (e.g., Overwatch).