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Hawaii lawmaker reveals his plans to tackle loot boxes

By midian182 ยท 7 replies
Dec 6, 2017
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  1. The loot box controversy reached a peak last month with the release of Star Wars Battlefront II and its much-hated system. It led to authorities around the world, including Democratic member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, Chris Lee, calling for action to be taken. Now, Lee has spelled out his plans in a new video.

    Lee again emphasizes that he is not looking for a blanket ban on microtransactions within games; instead, he wants titles that include “gambling mechanisms,” which covers in-game purchases where you’re not guaranteed to get a specific item, banned from being sold to under 21s. This would cover both physical outlets and digital stores such as Steam.

    In the clip, Lee uses the example of paying $200 for a chance to win an in-game sword. The fact that there’s only a “percentage chance” of getting the sword means the system is a form of gambling, according to Lee, and therefore the games shouldn’t be sold to minors.

    While he acknowledges it comes from third-hand, unverified sources, Lee expresses concerns over publishers using algorithms to identify players likely to spend more to achieve a certain item and then decreasing their chances of receiving it. He could be referring to the Activision "exploratory patent" filed in 2015 that encourages players to spend more money on microtransactions, but this has never been used in a game.

    "Once the algorithm identifies a player who's likely to keep spending money to buy that one 'unicorn thing' that they're after ... then they lower the odds and then you keep spending more. It's absolutely unethical and unfair," said Lee.

    The senator mentions that “so many other legislators” in other states have spoken to him about introducing a law that protects young people from loot box gambling. He also asks viewers to write to their elected officials and "ask them to consider taking action to protect local families and particularly underage youth from predatory gaming practices."

    Following an investigation, the Belgian Gaming Commission concluded that the loot box system constitutes a form of gambling; a statement later echoed by an Australian gambling regulator. Hopefully, the bad publicity and potentially limiting the games’ audiences will ensure future versions of the systems aren’t as exploitative.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,994   +2,177

    How exactly are lootboxes gambling though? When you gamble in a casino you have a high chance of getting nothing. At least with a lootbox you get something every time. It's more like trading card games, which are completely legal in every state, and also pray on the same addictions. If they are going to make a law about this, they are going to have to be very specific or they could not only sink both the mobile, console, and PC gaming market but also affect other industries like TCGs.

    We all recognize that certain companies have predatory practices, just make sure that any bill is very well thought out. I'd like to point out that no one is forcing these people to buy these games and it's not like people who are don't know EA's reputation. The only people I am going to excuse are people 18 and under, because they might be too young to actually know.
  3. TheLBCGuy

    TheLBCGuy TS Rookie

    I am curious to see how this all plays out. Like you alluded to, gambling has always been a childhood past-time. In addition to TCGs, we always bought baseball cards or [going way back] Garbage Pail Kids, hoping for a rare or hologram card that would up our friends.

    Those miniature collectible toys in the checkout lines of Target, Best Buy and Gamestop are all gambling as well. All meant in good fun, too. But some personalities can get obsessed about it. Might need to hide those type of products in their own room like old video rental stores.

    The prosecution will probably bring up the case where everything is digital and can be bought anytime, anyplace, unlike physical products in stores, where you'd have to wait for the store to open in the morning.
    Reehahs and TempleOrion like this.
  4. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 268   +148

    Let the market decide the fate. We don't need a law for every damn thing in our lives. If everybody stops buying the loot boxes and the games that have loot boxes....They will stop making them.
  5. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 693   +426

    If you let the market decide everything then companies will start marketing for matching guns with newborn babies in the US. That is why you need laws, XD.
  6. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 268   +148

    Get off your big government anti gun high horse. This thread is talking about video games.
  7. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 693   +426

    Video games with focus on government legislation.

    What is the hate against big government? Do you want to go back to the era of the Standard Oil?

    As for guns, the time of the civil war era is long gone and guns are no longer relevant to the original purpose of defeating the government via armed militia. The way police forces in the US are equipped (also due to prevalence on guns), you cannot win against your local department let alone coming close to toppling the government.
  8. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 268   +148

    The larger the government the less we have personal freedom. All Big Government has gotten us is over 20 Trillion Dollars in dept.
    A dept we can never pay off. This country is bankrupt because of big intrusive government.
    Reehahs likes this.

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