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Console makers and video game publishers commit to disclose loot box odds

By nanoguy · 11 replies
Aug 7, 2019
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  1. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will now force disclosures from new and updated games that sell randomized loot boxes, in an effort to increase transparency for players who arguably have a right to know the odds of winning different types of in-game items through those game mechanics.

    The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), who represents the video game industry, made the announcement at a loot box workshop taking place at the Federal Trade Commission today. ESA Chief Counsel Michael Warnecke said the three big console makers are committed to new platform-wide policies that will govern the way loot boxes are developed and marketed on their platforms.

    There's no exact timing on when we can expect the requirements to come into effect, but the ESA says the companies hope to roll them out sometime in 2020. The policies would include the "disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomized virtual items on their platforms," so that players can make better purchase decisions. This would be building on top of previous efforts from the ESRB to clearly label titles that have in-game purchases.

    Warnecke said that console manufacturers are not the only companies to commit to the proposed changes. Several video game publishers are looking to "implement a similar approach," with prominent names like Bethesda, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Bungie, WB Interactive Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive, Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast., the Chief Counsel added that "many other ESA members are considering a disclosure."

    It's worth noting that the industry body recognizes the importance of listening to consumers and building "relationships with our players based on fun, but just as importantly on trust." Recently, regulators have expressed their concerns over loot box mechanics with a focus on those targeting children, mirroring what other world governments have done over the last few years to fight this trend.

    Today's announcement seems to bring support from companies like EA, who only months ago defended loot boxes and "surprise mechanics" as ethical, so it's nice to see them admitting that they have a responsibility to be open about them to the many players that have spent billions of dollars and made these companies puff up in the span of a few years.

    Apple and Google have similarly decided to force app store developers to disclose loot box drop rates. Australian regulators have compared them with gambling, and European countries like Belgium have even declared them to be illegal in the way they are implemented in games like FIFA 18, Overwatch and CS:GO.

    To put things in perspective, ESA members have finally caved in to years of criticism from consumers about loot box mechanics in video games and are proceeding to self-regulate as a way to move the industry forward without government intervention and bills that could have overreaching effects on video game content.

    Permalink to story.

  2. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,363   +1,001

    The Odds are always against you.
  3. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 760   +593

    Telling someone that a slot machine has 1% odds does not keep them from the gambling addiction. The core of the issue is not being addressed - the exploitation of the craving.
  4. Nocturne

    Nocturne TS Maniac Posts: 201   +102

    This seems like "to little to late" the ESA and ESRB had so many years to address these issues and yet it's at the last second before governments start or are before ending inquiries, getting involved they want self regulation.

    I would point out ratings were more a concession made as a conclusion to federal commissions that were looking into and at games. While I personally don't believe real world violence and obscene behaviour is tied specifically to games, movies, or music there are always exceptions to those trying to make a point.

    As big Pharma made so very clear self regulation is like asking a wolf to herd sheep, pointless and stupid. Self regulation can only work when people have morals and ethics that are on the same page, when the line is drawn that your whole perspective of existence is to accrue the max amount of wealth you can take in, corporate entities typically do whatever that takes until the point the hands are caught in the cookie jar.
  5. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 817   +324

    Completely against loot boxes. The whole point of gaming is achieving and earning. Gambling for items is a crapshoot way of playing.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
  6. kira setsu

    kira setsu TS Addict Posts: 149   +123

    This is way too much work, just increase the purchase price of games and admit to gamers that to get these games to the graphical levels they beg for and be fully featured quality games it takes alot of capital and its either a higher priced game or this microtransaction/lootbox BS.

    I'm usually against hiking up prices but right now I cant stand buying new games because I know I'm not getting a complete product anymore, and now that they pull stuff like that crash kart racer mess I'm really irritated.
    Danny101 and cliffordcooley like this.
  7. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 760   +593

    Perhaps "playing" is not the appropriate term. Buying loot boxes is not playing a game.... It's not pay2win, it's pay2lose. If you have to spend real money to essentially buy a cheat code, you already lost.
    Danny101 likes this.
  8. Nocturne

    Nocturne TS Maniac Posts: 201   +102

    More to the point I think most of us want to play a video game, if any of us wanted to gamble we would go out to a casino if we were old enough to play.
    Danny101 and cliffordcooley like this.
  9. Nocturne

    Nocturne TS Maniac Posts: 201   +102

    I seriously doubt money/revenue is the issue.

    Think about it $60 for a AAA game if they sell like let's take Diablo 3 on PC it was the largest preorder Blizzard ever had with over 12 million copies pre sold, and that isn't including deluxe editions and such. That is over half a billion dollars in revenue, keep in mind most games are under 30 million to produce as reported by the industry leaders with exceptions of course like AAA MMOs and it doesn't include marketing.......so at some point you have to seriously as yourself with the product and market the way it is how much is good enough and at what point is it a get Rich quick problem with greed as the driven motivator. Grant it percentages do get taken, engine/publisher/store costs and such it would be naive
    To think it's a 100% translation from revenue into profit.

    The bottom line is gaming got this way when investors started shifting from other forms of media into the industry demanding exorbitant returns and trying to turn million dollar returns into billion returns.

    WOW is a great example, with the sheer amount of money it revenues year after year since inception there should have never been an excuse to see Blizzard not reinvest properly into their franchises to continue to profit, instead the excess was mismanaged and probably got stuffed in investors pockets while doing no actual development bar set to the point it's greater than a decade if at all to see a game in a franchise.
  10. kira setsu

    kira setsu TS Addict Posts: 149   +123

    If greed is the reason, and we know it is, then how do consumers even fight back against that?

    I'd say by not buying the games but considering that gamers will pre-order a sketch on a napkin I dont have much hope in a boycott against the games industry.
  11. Nocturne

    Nocturne TS Maniac Posts: 201   +102

    Well that's the thing take FIFA for instance the microtransactions made a significant revenue for EA to the point they made more money off card packs than the game itself, I mean I could accept it IF* it was a F2P game but getting people to spend over 100$ on a game and then gouging the customer through gambling is a bit over the top.

    It's not going to stop unless people stop buying games from them. For the most part Madden 2015 is the same as 2019 just different player name. If people would stop encouraging bad behavior they would stop.

    That's why people should support studios like CdprojectRed and the few that give excellent value for the money. Even the creator of POE stated " If you want to make money respect consumers wallets as well as the consumer in general, give them content and they will gladly support you"
  12. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 760   +593

    "That's why people should support studios like CdprojectRed"

    They are scum as well. Although they try to twist words by calling them "kegs" instead of loot "boxes". Kind of like calling "abortion" instead of what it is - baby murder.

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