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Belgium and Hawaii look to ban loot boxes, ask others to do the same

By midian182 ยท 20 replies
Nov 22, 2017
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  1. People have strong feelings about the increasing number of full-priced games containing loot boxes.Things reached a tipping point with Star Wars Battlefront 2's much-hated system, but it looks as if the player backlash is having an effect, with both Belgium and Hawaii fighting back against the practice while urging other countries and states to do the same.

    Following a recent investigation, the Belgian Gaming Commission has just ruled that the loot box system constitutes a form of gambling. According to VTM Nieuws, the Commission concluded that the “mixing of money and addiction” makes it little different from slot machines.

    "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child,” said Belgium's Minister of Justice, Koen Geens. He is calling for an outright ban on those in-game purchases where you don’t know what you’re specifically buying, adding that Belgium would have to “go to Europe” for the process of banning the system.

    Over in Hawaii, Rep. Chris Lee (D) has announced that the state will be taking action to address this “predatory behavior.”

    “This game [Star Wars Battlefront 2] is a Star Wars-themed online casino,” said Lee, before repeating Admiral Ackbar’s famous line: “It’s a trap.”

    Explaing his statement on Reddit, Lee writes: "These kinds of loot boxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all."

    Lee proposes introducing legislation prohibiting the sale of games featuring loot boxes to minors, while “prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms” within games. He has alsobeen in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue. Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.”

    Some argue that loot boxes can’t be considered gambling because you’re always guaranteed to get something, but seeing as the 'prizes' include unimpressive emotes and victory poses, many people keep handing over cash in the hope of winning something better, making the gambling comparison seem pretty apt.

    Yesterday, a financial analyst called the loot box controversy an “overreaction” by the media and players, adding that gamers should be paying more for these titles.

    How much of an effect the actions of Belgium and Hawaii have on loot box systems remains to be seen, but it could be an important first step in implementing an industry-wide change.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2017
  2. RogSim

    RogSim TS Rookie

    I'd love to be a fly in the room with the Disney and EA execs trying to stamp out this raging bonfire.
  3. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,974   +1,154

    This video made my day.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,295   +2,754

    EXCELLENT! The out of control looting of the gaming industry is about to be regulated like slot machines and casino's ...... let the chips fall where they may!
    Stark, SirChocula, alexnode and 4 others like this.
  5. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,260   +1,855

    I guess they'll just have to go back to pure P2W where you buy in-game currency to get exactly what you want. While I also oppose RMT for boosters and elite gear it *is* the lesser of the two evils. Personally I'd like to see a hybrid grind/buy system where you need to unlock higher tiers of the game (XP level or other milestones) before you can purchase the better items. You could spend money like mad to progress to the next tier, of course, but you won't be getting end-game stuff until you actually play the game to that point. Anyone who buys performance-boosting items should have a currency symbol as part of their character's name until they hit the next tier and if there's an "inspect" function it should display exactly which purchased items you have equipped.
  6. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,974   +1,154

    You sound like your ok with being bent over and stuffed like a thanksgiving Turkey.
  7. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,952   +1,277

    I'm not a fan of government intervention in consumer products, and truthfully, this will never turn into any sort of legislation. But I do like the fact that politicians are pointing the gun (pun intended) at casino-style practices in video games.

    I get that gaming companies invest a lot of money and resources into their big-name game releases and are looking for a decent return on their investment. Not a problem - it is a business after all and as a consumer, I don't mind paying for a quality product. ONCE. But Battlefront II is nothing but a money grab masquerading as a game, so EA/Disney deserve every minute of grief they're receiving.
    spectrenad, ShagnWagn, bolski and 4 others like this.
  8. Teco919

    Teco919 TS Rookie

    Its bad enough that they us "season updates " to fix bugs , and to give you the game that was promised at the beginning, but now you have to pay to complete the game ! , and suffer because you cant afford to upgrade your weapons and therefore are at a disadvantage to players who can , I for one say no more , and will not be purchasing this game even if they have Temporary removed the Loot boxes. this will kill online gaming. Guess I will be getting single player no loot boxes games from now on...
  9. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,045   +1,377

    im the same way. I dont know how much government intervention here would be ideal at all - banning versus age/ID requirement vs something else? its crappy that the government even has to look at it.

    But im very happy to see that this is making even weak tremors in the industry.
  10. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Enthusiast Posts: 82   +31

    One of government primary function is protect its people. That why you have criminal laws and military. Just because they have name of disney do not mean you might not need protection from them. Most country Governments have a long history of checking safety for products from cars, to asbestos, to paint, to children toys. It is not a political issue.
  11. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 705   +442

    Finally some countries/states talking sense.
    alexnode and LeroN like this.
  12. bolski

    bolski TS Booster Posts: 64   +74

  13. bolski

    bolski TS Booster Posts: 64   +74

    Me too. Disney's greed since purchasing the Star Wars franchise has gone out of control. Rogue One, Han Solo movies, and now supposedly a NEW trilogy that will be a TV series? Over saturation is getting out of hand.
    spectrenad and BSim500 like this.
  14. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 394   +255

    Game companies also need to put those pay-to-win people in their own tiers. That is total BS they stick them with players who earn their progress. I personally would feel sleazy if I needed to pay money to lie about myself being a better player.
    bolski and BSim500 like this.
  15. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,871   +668

    About damn time this happens, but I've pretty much given up on any game that has day one DLC and micro-transactions that cost more than $50. These greedy fcuks need to decide, full price for a full game with no additional cost related to playing the game, or reduce the base price of the game with paid for content and add on content. Not this full price game + full price DLC + micro-transaction BS, people are out of their damn minds if they go along with this crap and support big business gaming for doing so, or stupidly desperate?
    SirChocula and BSim500 like this.
  16. SBKenn

    SBKenn TS Rookie

    People and corporations used to budget on 10 year ROI. Now, they aren't content unless it is one year or better. OK, the life of these products is quite short, but whose fault is that ? Like computers that run the games, it is an arms race, older systems are rubbished when the still do the jobs that the vast majority of us want them for. Does better graphics really make the game more exciting, or is it just snobbery ? A good story/plot outranks CGI every time.
  17. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,001   +1,479

    As I see it, the trouble is that far too many people are happy to be bent over and stuffed like a thanksgiving Turkey.

    When I started gaming, the extras were always free in the game; the player just had to look for them. Take, for instance, the original Doom or Wolfenstein 3D. Then gaming companies like EA realized that they might be able to market those in-game freebies and make more money off of them. I have not been much of a gamer recently, so I do not know where that happened, however, those gaming companies must have found that people were willing to pay extra for these things - that were once totally free. This reminds me of the admission by that fakebook rep a couple of weeks ago who literally stated that their system was socially engineered to take advantage of the people who would feel better about themselves if they were "liked".

    To me, it seems unfortunate that gamers born later than I never had that experience of exploring the levels in a game and getting the "easter eggs" for free because, at least as I see it, they may never have started paying for the in-game once free stuff, and the gaming companies never would have started charging extra for it.

    This kind of thing is only successful because people accept it. If gamers are willing to forego this kind of thing and not give up their hard-earned cash for it, then the gaming companies will have to either make it free again, or find a means to turn this kind of content into something that does not play on the addictive tendencies of humanity.

    As I see it, this happens everywhere now. I just picked up a 980 Ti off e-bay for $335 US. Sure, it consumes 100 more watts and is maybe 10-20 percent slower than a 1080 Ti, but for me, it was a much better deal than buying a new 1080 Ti for more than twice that price. The difference in electrical cost is minimal for me, and the difference in performance is also minimal. For the future, I will almost certainly look to the used market. I see this as just another incarnation of the same marketing spiel aimed at elements of humanity that have an addictive nature, and I, for one, am totally sick of it.
  18. Potato Judge

    Potato Judge TS Booster Posts: 147   +65

    Thank goodness for the Star Cards Gamblefront 2 controversy. I hope other governments step up against this kind of practice.
  19. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 757   +509

    "These kinds of loot boxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed................"
    I actually suspect the companies that designed these games hire psychologists for exactly these kind of reasons.
    bolski likes this.
  20. amghwk

    amghwk TS Maniac Posts: 349   +193

    It's about time people start slapping on EA's greedy face.

    And it's about time zombie, mindless players wake up from their slumber.
    bolski likes this.
  21. bolski

    bolski TS Booster Posts: 64   +74

    I've seen people brag about how great they are in Game of War and other games of it's ilk, but what makes you so great when all you do is out spend other people? Gone are the days where you had to work to level up. I know people hated what was called "grinding" but I find MUCH more satisfaction doing the work myself, rather than either cheating (by finding a way to patch games, etc) or else spending to level up quickly. It's very akin to gambling. You spend, you get yourself leveled up quickly and are, for a short time, powerful. You get a rush until someone comes along and zeroes your rear end. Depression sets in, and then you feel the need to spend to get revenge on that person and make THEM spend some more since they made YOU spend. It's what one of my friends told me how he felt when he kept spending. He finally realized what a mistake it was when he saw his Google Play account and has since sworn off these type of games. What is disgusting is how this has proliferated throughout all gaming platforms now. The old days of when games had actual substance and story lines to them are gone. It's all about instant gratification and instant leveling up. What's the fun in that? Is this how D&D is done now too? What, do people pay their DMs money and their characters are instantly leveled up? What happened to the XP earning and having to actually make calculated decisions on what to upgrade and when? Again, the age of instant gratification is what is causing the ruin of the gaming industry these days. Heaven forbid this people ever played an adventure game from the 80's and 90's. They'd be calling for walk throughs, etc rather than trying to actually work their way through the game itself. I'd hate for them to try and play any of the Ultimas starting at 3 through 7. They'd give up after a hour when they realized there was no easy/quick way to level up your party to have all the spells, etc. Sad, sad, sad.
    ShagnWagn likes this.

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