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Belgium Denounces Loot Boxes as Gambling; Hawaiian Legislator Calls Them 'Predatory' (arstechnica.co.uk) 203

Peter Bright, writing for ArsTechnica: Belgium's Gaming Commission has ruled that loot boxes -- in-game purchases where what you receive is randomized and only known once you open the box -- are gambling. The country's minister of justice, Koen Geens, has said that he wants to see them banned Europe-wide, reports PC Gamer. Amid outcry over the use of loot boxes in Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront 2, the Belgian Gaming Commission decided last week to look into the issue, with Commission Director Peter Naessens specifically saying that the combination of paying money and receiving something "dependent on chance" prompted the investigation. Rather swiftly, it seems, the Commission has made its decision. In October, the US' Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rejected calls to classify loot boxes as gambling. It told Kotaku that since players receive some reward from opening the loot box -- even if it's useless or unwanted -- that it's not gambling. As such, loot box games will receive neither ESRB's "Real Gambling" nor "Simulated Gambling" labels, the former of which automatically gives a game an "Adults Only" rating. Many retailers refuse to sell A-O games, so giving every title that uses loot boxes such a rating would likely be harmful to their sales. The question of whether loot boxes are gambling may see some new scrutiny in the US. Hawaiian Democratic State Representative Chris Lee has described loot boxes as predatory behavior.
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Belgium Denounces Loot Boxes as Gambling; Hawaiian Legislator Calls Them 'Predatory'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 24, 2017 @06:35AM (#55614543)

    It is unregulated gambling. Just because you can't cash out, doesn't make it not gambling.

    These Loot boxes, gachapon, etc are rigged against the player so they spend as much as possible to get whatever "rare" thing is in it.

    If it was simply "buy this skin" no RNG involved, people would not be having a shit fit. But this RNG "slot machine" type of behavior is exactly designed to bilk players out of money and hand out as few valuable items as possible. You know where like a real slot machine pays out 93-97% of the time. Loot boxes may never pay out.

    We've also had this argument for years, as Nexon Corp has been doing this for at least a fricken decade in their Maple Story and Mabinogi MMO games.

    Captcha: Jackpot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      One could argue all day over whether or not it is gambling in the legal sense. The intent of the regulation is to keep stupid people from doing stupid things, another debate in itself.
      • by GNious ( 953874 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @07:55AM (#55614675)

        The intent of the regulation is to keep stupid people from doing stupid things, another debate in itself.

        Is a sad day when addiction is called "doing stupid things."

        • The intent of the regulation is to keep stupid people from doing stupid things, another debate in itself.

          Is a sad day when addiction is called "doing stupid things."

          Are you saying addiction is smart? Aren't we all capable of doing something stupid?

        • I wanted to make a witty comment but I haven't had my cup of doing a stupid thing yet.

        • by sudon't ( 580652 )

          The intent of the regulation is to keep stupid people from doing stupid things, another debate in itself.

          Is a sad day when addiction is called "doing stupid things."

          It’s even sadder that people can’t, or won’t, distinguish between compulsive behaviors and addiction. We’ve watered that word “addiction” down to near-meaninglessness.

          This clearly isn’t gambling in the normal sense people think of. What this is, not letting people see what they’re buying, is a scam, a fraud, (of course, that defines gambling, too). They should have no trouble regulating that. Anyway, people should be allowed to gamble, in spite of the fact tha

        • You expected sympathy and kindness on Slashdot? Shitposting is an Olympic sport here.
        • Oh, so smoking isn't stupid? Cool. Pass me the Marlies, man.

      • by mrsquid0 ( 1335303 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @07:57AM (#55614683) Homepage

        The intent of the regulation is to keep amoral people from preying on stupid people.

        • Democracy is gambling.

          • by temcat ( 873475 )

            This. Doesn't mean that there are inherently better options, but still.

          • and minors generally aren't allowed to vote

    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @07:20AM (#55614611)

      If it was simply "buy this skin" no RNG involved, people would not be having a shit fit. But this RNG "slot machine" type of behavior is exactly designed to bilk players out of money and hand out as few valuable items as possible. You know where like a real slot machine pays out 93-97% of the time. Loot boxes may never pay out.

      Absolutely. The math has been done and the apprximate amount of money one has to spend if you wish to unlock all of the content (in the game you've already paid good money for) is 2100 $ [vg247.com]! Or, alternatively, without money, it takes over 4500 hours of gameplay to unlock everything!

      The greed of EA is beyond disgusting. The SW license is one of the strongest out there, and heavily liked by kids and teens, and they purposefully use it to design a grind-marathon which is designed to incentive people at throwing money in the hopes of getting something useful. The business model is even greedier than most of the free to play models it's been copied from, and we're talking about a 60 to 80 dollars full-price release. Even more pathetic are the weak excuses the asswipes at EA tried to conjur up to defend this racket by saying it's desgined to 'give players a sense of accomplishment and pride', when the in game progression doesn't even relate to player skill in any way. It doesn't matter if you're a top player or a rookie, the rate at which you progress without microtransactions is simply tied to time in game. Skill and accomplishments have nothing to do with it. It's a 100 % pay-to-win system designed to do nothing but drive sales of the lootboxes.

      This is why I prefer the game commentator/youtuber Jim Sterling's (whose made several videos about microtransaction BS this year, including this recent one [youtube.com] about this EA/Battlefront situation) terminology for these 'triple AAA' releases with lootbox shit: 'fee-to-pay'. It's absolute BS and I do hope these shitty developers end up getting burned. Wanna include gambling mechanics to your full-price release? Fine, but can't sell it to underaged people then. And I do hope Disney ends up force chocking the license out of EAs hands if and hopefully when the sales of Battlefront II fall short of their expectations because of this.

      As a longtime gamer and a SW fan I plead all here: do not buy this game. Don't buy it for yourself, don't buy it as a gift, don't even buy it at a discount. It's the only way the companies will ever learn. Don't be fooled by the decision to disable them for now, Dice admitted already that it's a temporary measure while they're 're-adjusting' the system. Meaning. they tried the waters out, now they're waiting for the holiday sales to pass and the dust to settle before introducing a watered down version of the same bullshit.

      Compare this to proper publishers like CD Projekt Red: like I just recently picked up Wicher 3 with both of its expansions from a steam sale at 20 euros, and I do have to say CD Projekt Red are doing it right: you buy the game, you get all the content straight out of the box. And before someone points out that it's somehow 'different' for single-player games I remind you all that in this Year of the Lootbox WB included a shitton of mictrotransactions and grinding in Shadow of War's single player campaign.

      This behavior is destructive and antithetical to the whole point of quality games, because introducing intentional grind-fests that are meant to bog the player down with menial repetitive tasks is sending a message of 'yeah, we know the base gameplay sucks, we intentionally designed it to suck, but hey, you can skip it by paying us more money and get to the good stuff'.

      Fuck. These. Publishers. They need to fall and be replaced by companies that actual develop stuff gameplay first.

      • by RobinH ( 124750 )
        I agree with you, but how is this different than say, the online worlds depicted in novels like "Snow Crash," "REAMDE," or "Ready Player One"? Aren't those worlds full of rare and valuable virtual items that the players/users invest enormous amounts of time to acquire?
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @07:52AM (#55614663) Journal

        Or, alternatively, without money, it takes over 4500 hours of gameplay to unlock everything!

        So, what you're saying is, if you pay $2100 then you get to play the game a lot less, and the more you pay the more you get to avoid playing the game? If that's an incentive then I've got a better deal: for $0, you can not play the game at all!. How many other black-friday sales save you 100%?

        • by Kiuas ( 1084567 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @08:27AM (#55614783)

          So, what you're saying is, if you pay $2100 then you get to play the game a lot less, and the more you pay the more you get to avoid playing the game?

          The point is precisely that you need to pay to skip content which is in the game just to waste your time and is not enjoyable. EA is saying that in order to enjoy the full-experience you need to pay more money or you're stuck with a sub-par experience for thousands of hours. The standard gameplay experience is designed to be not worth playing, which illustrates how fucked up their business logic is.

          If that's an incentive then I've got a better deal: for $0, you can not play the game at all!

          Exactly. And that's precisely what I'm doing and encouraging everyone else to do!

          • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @08:41AM (#55614821) Journal

            The point is precisely that you need to pay to skip content which is in the game just to waste your time and is not enjoyable

            If there is enough boring content in it that paying $2100 to skip it seems to make economic sense, then that's a great argument for not buying it in the first place. I don't care so much about the loot boxes, but if a game developer is willing to spend effort intentionally making their game not fun (EA normally manages that accidentally) then that always seems a pretty good reason to avoid it.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              It's very carefully designed so that the free stuff is enough to get you invested in the game, but then you see that other people who paid to win seem to enjoying kicking your arse and oh look the big one-arm-bandit lever is right there just wanting for you to pull it.

              • by RedK ( 112790 )

                who paid to win seem to enjoying kicking your arse

                If you don't like P2W, don't play F2P from sketchy Asian game makers. The concept of Loot boxes in most games doesn't offer competitive advantages. Don't conflate issues, and lump all loot boxes into the same model.

            • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @11:43AM (#55615559) Journal

              You guys are arguing the wrong stuff. They are letting kids gamble with real money for desirable (and usually resellable) virtual items. It takes advantage of the same mental issues of gambling addicts, while hiding the real costs.

              It's one thing to say, "Here is a cool outfit skin, price $10." and "Here is a cool outfit skin, buy 10 keys for $10 and maybe you will unlock the gloves, or the boots of one of a dozen other outfits, or some consumable powerups, or a rare mount."

              This hides the true likely costs, just like gambling. The house, so to speak, knows the real odds, and relies on confusion and ignorance of the gambling addict, or child in this case.

              • by pots ( 5047349 )

                or child in this case

                Or... not. They're both rated T - age 13+ - and while companies don't usually release statistics on their player base, the average age of Overwatch players has been estimated as mid to late 20s. Battlefront is probably similar.

          • by RedK ( 112790 )

            EA is saying that in order to enjoy the full-experience

            What rubbish. Loot boxes contain skins, emotes and badges. Cosmetic stuff that is not part of the Gameplay. Destiny 2, Overwatch, name the game, plays the exact same way with 0 loot boxes than with 2100$ worth of stuff.

            If you don't want to play the game for 4500 hours to get all the cosmetics, then newsflash : Don't. Stop playing when you're not interested in playing it. That you don't have the Gold/Pink Stormtrooper Mk. 4 armor won't kill you and is not required.

            • In the case of Overwatch, the loot boxes only contain cosmetics. In the case of Star Wars Battlefront II, they also contain items that offer gameplay advantages, such as lower cooldowns for special abilities.

              Besides, whether cosmetics change the way you experience a game differs from player to player. Some people only care about mechanics, while for other people having a cool-looking character is an important part of the experience. If cosmetics didn't matter in any way, no-one would buy them.

              • by Aereus ( 1042228 )

                The thing is, those cosmetics used to be stuff included in games, placed behind challenges or bought with in-game currency after beating the game, etc. And you got specifically what you wanted, it wasn't obfuscated. They know dressing up avatars is very popular, so they now hide all of that inside a lootbox with a bunch of other quantified crap like sprays and voice emotes to lower the odds. Getting in-game currency to purchase a specific skin is the rarest drop out of the boxes and it would take many hundr

        • by sootman ( 158191 )

          > for $0, you can not play the game at all!. How
          > many other black-friday sales save you 100%?

          If your question is "how many sales let you spend nothing and get nothing", the answer is: they all do.

      • CD Projekt Red also came out with Gwent which requires you to purchase card packs with random cards, the very definition of pay to win and gambling.
      • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

        No argument here. Imagine if stores/manufacturers pulled this loot box type of crap. It's like buying a car and then having to spin a roulette wheel to find out what kind of engine you're going to have (with chances of getting "hamster wheel", "lawnmower engine", etc.). Or going to the store looking for pumpkin filling for a pie, and finally get pumpkin filling after buying 20 cans because they all turned out to be random variations of beans.

        I don't have a problem with loot boxes when it comes to things tha

      • Mortal Kombat X mobile is even more expensive.

        You can buy 2000 souls for $99. Average cost of gold characters is about 390 souls. Each character can be fused to upgrade it 7 times (8 total purchases). There are almost 60 gold characters. So for $99 you can't even buy 1 character and upgrade him to max .

        60 * 390 / 2000 * $100

        $11,000 to buy every character and upgrade them to max level. That is if you could directly buy all characters which you can't.

        Some characters can only be obtained through packs (lo

      • Absolutely. The math has been done and the apprximate amount of money one has to spend if you wish to unlock all of the content (in the game you've already paid good money for) is 2100 $ [vg247.com]! Or, alternatively, without money, it takes over 4500 hours of gameplay to unlock everything!

        ...but is (saddly) not how things are considered.

        In most jurisdictions "gambling" is clearly defined, and thus companies have found way around it, some ways even predating video games.

        Basically, for something to be considered "gambling", you need :
        - to put money in in order to participate (you need to bet cash, or buy chips, or whatever).
        - the RNG being the sole determinant of the outcome (the actions of the player don't have any influence on outcome of game : no matter which numbers one bets on at the roul

    • While I tend to agree, where do you draw the line? What about real world items that are sold with random distribution? Things like blind-boxed collectable figures or even trading cards? "Sorry kid, you have to be at least 18 to buy baseball cards. It's gambling."
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @09:29AM (#55614991)

        Of course it's gambling. The question is only whether or not to set an age limit or other regulations. Baseball cards were originally distributed in cigarette packages... aimed at adults.

        Personally, I think that when baseball cards left the gum wrapper and started being sold as a product on their own they should have been restricted according to regular gambling regulations.

    • If that is the case is "Magic the gathering" and similar card games also gambling?
      Buying the packs could be considered pay to win, since you purchase enough packs you are get better cards while make it easier to win.
    • If it was simply "buy this skin" no RNG involved, people would not be having a shit fit.

      Personally (and this is just my opinion, YMMV), loot boxes for skins and other purely cosmetic items wouldn't bother me either. The justified shit-fit isn't about loot boxes, it's about how the items have actual gameplay value.

      The concept of value is key in my mind, since that's what drives the physiological reward aspect of gambling.

  • by misnohmer ( 1636461 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @06:48AM (#55614559)

    Well, if the ESRB's reasoning of "if you receive a reward, even if useless, then it's not gambling" than any business that is considered and regulated under gambling laws can simply provide their players with rewards points which can be redeemed for prizes (even if useless). Most if not all casino's have rewards programs, I guess they'll be able to claim exemption from gambling laws for any players who collect rewards not based on chance (i.e. if you gamble for $1000, you get a free complementary drink).

    • by aevan ( 903814 )
      Japan has that with pachinko parlours. Take your payout of prizes. Go next door, exchange your prizes for money. Ta-da! No gambling involved.
    • Well, if the ESRB's reasoning of "if you receive a reward, even if useless, then it's not gambling" than any business that is considered and regulated under gambling laws can simply provide their players with rewards points which can be redeemed for prizes (even if useless).

      Those reward points aren't considered a payment that is given to the player for playing the game, though they are considered to be cash and the casino is responsible for making sure that the player gets rewarded at some point. If they have an outstanding points balance for a player who doesn't bother to redeem them, they ask the player what they want and then they will go out and spend their cash value on something that they actually want, like a car, and deliver it. In my former life, I wrote Crystal Repor

      • It does however raise the question of precisely where the line in gambling is. If I overcharge you for an item and give every hundredth customer thirty of them, is that gambling? Obviously it is, but is it legally?

        The line is pretty clear. If the average rate of return for the customer is less than what they on average paid, then it's gambling. If the average return is higher than what they paid, then it's investing.

        That's the key thing to understand here. Positive economic activity comes from produc

  • by grungeman ( 590547 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @06:48AM (#55614561)
    If you are interested in this topic, or if you have children, you must read this:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes... [facebook.com]

    Quote from the maifesto:
    "If you are playing a game for next to nothing – or free – and you find out people are spending thousands, or tens of thousands, or in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars – there may be a problem."

    I felt awful after reading this,
    • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @07:50AM (#55614655) Homepage
      For those of you who can't (or won't) go to a Facebook like, here's another link to the manifesto [pastebin.com].
    • "If you are playing a game for next to nothing â" or free â" and you find out people are spending thousands, or tens of thousands, or in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars â" there may be a problem."

      Wait, that was written by the developer of one of the most senseless and addictive card games in history? I guess he would know what he is talking about, since he made his money by playing off the addictions of children, and that description fits MTG at least as well as any other game in history, given that nobody is actually spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on any of these games.

      • by Whibla ( 210729 )

        My first thought on reading the summary was about those card games too.

        It's quite funny that, once again, there seem to be different rules because "it's online".

        I mean, in what way don't those card packs fall under their definition of 'Loot Boxes'? Because you're guaranteed to get at least 1 rare card? Oh, please!

        To be fair, my feelings on the matter are torn between disgust at the manufacturers / publishers, frustration with the further extension of the nanny state, and sympathy, or perhaps pity, for those

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        nobody is actually spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on any of these games.

        I wouldn't be so sure of that.... The number's probably small, to be sure... but given that there is a sizable number of people spending tens of thousands, it's not inconceivable that there are at least a few people of a similar mindset who simply happen to have larger amounts of disposable income.

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Imagine a world where bars don’t charge for the first two drinks a day but charge crazy fees for subsequent drinks.

      That sounds like most bars back when I was a student...

  • In Team Fortress 2 you would have the same, you'd find boxes that may or may not contain something valuable and you have to buy the keys to open them with RL money.

    I don't know what's different this time. Is the stuff you get from those loot boxes game changing? Is it decoration, fluff and textures or are there actually different stats involved?

    • by Kaenneth ( 82978 )

      TF2 has blood and gore and isn't marketed at children like Star Wars

      • You have seen the various "Meet the..." videos? This game has blood and gore, all right, but it's clearly marketed towards adolescents.

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      LOTRO also sells keys to loot boxes. The boxes and keys both drop or are awarded, but these are rare, and purchased keys offer no clue what the loot boxes contain. Not sure if the all of the possible loot box contents are obtainable sans loot box...

    • Take a look around and you'll find quite a few people who got into trouble because of TF2 loot chest addiction. It's been a problem for years.

  • I can *maybe* see it being a lottery if you can buy the same things that you get in the loot box for specific prices in the game so each has a definite monetary value.

    • I can *maybe* see it being a lottery if you can buy the same things that you get in the loot box for specific prices in the game so each has a definite monetary value.

      You can calculate the monetary value based on statistics. How much does it cost to get the item, on average? That's so simple, even I could probably do it.

      • by temcat ( 873475 )

        It doesn't exist before the statistics accumulates, may not be advertised by the game vendor, and may not be known to the user.

  • Thousands of games already had loot box equivelants, going back more than a decade. They are in almost every mmorpg and many first person shooters. They definitely are a form of gambling as they tend to induce the same kind of over consumption. The worst games force you to buy all the end game content/gear directly instead of earning it. I've seen people spend up to ten thousand dollars on a shitty mobile game with bad graphics to simply be the one person with the best stuff, one of the saddest being so
  • by Meneth ( 872868 )
    Remember that the ESRB [wikipedia.org] is owned and operated by the game publishers themselves. They are obviously not going to kill one of their own biggest cash cows.
  • Assuming this is the same fake story, someone made a google translate mistake and it accidentally read as being ruled this way. It absolutely was not.
  • - Poker is generally accepted as a game of skill. You need not have the best hand to win a pot. OTOH, Cribbage forces you to show your cards, so it's gambling (and people pay cribbage for real money). Yet Cribbage requires some skill in discarding and playing the hand. By this definition, it seems Contract Bridge would be gambling. Tell that to skilled players that know what it takes to negotiate a clever bid.

    - D&D has been using 'loot boxes' forever. Admittedly, few people pay to play D&D, but some

    • You seem to be terribly confused about the differences between playing a game, gambling on the outcome, or actually running a book on something...

      Playing poker may be a game of skill, but playing it for money is gambling, just like betting on horse races, football games etc. You can play poker perfectly well with matchsticks or Monopoly money unless you are so tragically materialistic that you can't enjoy it without the prospect of winning real money.

      ...and yes, trading cards become a form of gambling a

  • Belgium has the highest suicide rate in Europe, 18 per 100,000 people. Which is almost double the rate in the U.S. and Canada at 10/100k. Which I never thought of, but you never hear people say "I'm going to Belgium for my holiday." or "You should go to Belgium, it's so beautiful there."
  • ESRB [wikipedia.org] is a industry self-regulatory organization. EA is part of it. Obviously, according to EA, EA is not engaging in predatory gambling targeted at minors.

    Time to regulated the shit out of these c*%*$@&#$s.
  • When videogames had gambling in them, you never could've paid real money to play, and the trick was mostly about finding the right one-armed bandit. And it wasn't bad - you got to enjoy some chiptunes [youtube.com] and you would eventually get a sweet Porygon for your effort.

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @08:42AM (#55614825) Journal

    I'll be the first to agree that real-money loot boxes in gaming are a terrible thing (if they're only available with in-game currency, I don't give a stuff). At their most benign (e.g. Overwatch), they are an inducement for people to continue to sink cash into a virtual slot machine. At their worst, when used as part of a pay-to-win system, they fundamentally corrupt a game's mechanics.

    And yet...

    I really, really wish that gamers (of all people) had not been jumping up and down and begging for Government intervention. Should you boycott games for containing loot box systems? Yes. Should you take to social media and cause as much brand damage as possible? Definitely. But bringing Government into things? Not going to end well...

    Popular authoritarianism and censorship is on the march at the moment, driven by both the religious right and the snowflake left. Do we really think that Governments poking around with one area of video-game regulation are going to limit themselves to that particular area? That this won't turn into some kind of "think of the children/think of the trans community" moral crusade.

    There's a real risk here that games are rushing headlong towards a cliff that could see German, Australian or even Chinese-style censorship of games spreading worldwide. The US might be at least partially protected due to its First Amendment, but here in the UK, with an authoritarian Government faced with an even more authoritarian opposition, I'm getting properly worried.

    • by Mascot ( 120795 )

      I see your point. The other angle to look at it from is that gambling is already regulated, and that this is gambling in a new form that current legislation doesn't cover. In effect, a loophole allowing for unregulated gambling.

      If one of the primary goals of gambling regulation is to prevent predatory behavior when it comes to exploiting those with addictive personalities, and I believe that to be the case, then I cannot see how we can leave this unregulated. I don't see a way to both be for gambling regula

    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      Not going to end well...

      Why - 1st Amendment heads off any slippery slope concerns on content regulation, at least in the U.S.

      As for the general fear of regulation - wanting less regulation for the sake of it is as sensible as wanting maximum regulation for the sake of it. DLC is obnoxious enough without paying real-world cash for something that turns out to be in-game crap.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @02:00PM (#55616283)

      I really, really wish that gamers (of all people) had not been jumping up and down and begging for Government intervention. Should you boycott games for containing loot box systems? Yes. Should you take to social media and cause as much brand damage as possible? Definitely. But bringing Government into things? Not going to end well...

      As a matter of interest when have the former options ever worked? I mean the single shittiest companies in the industry causing these problems ultimately became the most wealthy and far more alarmingly also became the largest corporate consolidators. We've been calling out bullshit DRM for years only to see the problem continue to get progressively worse to the point where you can now buy a game and not go home and play it on release day. We've been calling out pay-to-win for the garbage it is for years only to have that start hitting the news over and over again. We call out companies for providing additional DLC only to see companies provide DLC on day of release, on the disc, and without discounting the original title. We've called out shoddy and buggy garbage on release only to see games get more and more unplayable for an ever increasing duration from release.

      Government should exist to exert the collective will of the people. It's not like alternatives haven't been tried, and it's also not like all governments suddenly break out into overreach making crazy decisions of censorship. Americans may not understand because they are used to happily bending over for corporations but in much of the rest of the civilised world governments can be a great tool for the people, not for the corporations.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      What does it take until people wake up and get rid of this silly "everything the government does is evil, everything corporations do can be fixed by the free market" meme?

      These companies employ armies of psychologists and statisticians to find the best ways to exploit their players. They are hardly in the games business at all anymore. This is not a fair fight, it is not something that players by themselves can fix.

      Some of us have been ranting about exploitative microtransactions for years - but it is becom

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Because every time the EU Parliament opens, we never know what we'll be getting either.

  • I just recently have started playing Star Wars Battlefront II, and so far I really don't see an issue with the loot crates, apart from my spending the first ten minutes or so in the game just opening up crates and looking to see what the items did.

    To me the option to spend money is only mildly compelling, because the benefits you gain are marginal. It's not like you absolutely need anything the crates hold, I don't see any desire to spend real money on getting more at all.

    Some of that is because after the

    • We have lots of laws to help protect "a few people with addiction problems".

      I think they could solve all of this hubub by just removing the option to provide loot boxes with in game purchases. Leave loot boxes as leveling up/achievement rewards. Let the on-line spenders purchase the actual items they want instead of a loot box format.

      • The thing I do not like about that solution as a player, is that it lets very rich people just buy a host of advantages without ay effort.

        I actually like the look crate system more, where some kid just earning loot boxes in game may get some really nice item, while some rich kid trying to buy his way to success gets a whole lot of nothing. I think that is the problem the first games to include loot boxes were trying to address, to even out what people would actually be able to acquire.

        It's odd to me I've n

  • I think the distinction needs to be made between the mechanic being used as a randomized reward from in game play vs. purchasing them from the developer's on line store.

    I have no problem with the 'gambling' of items earned from just playing the game. I know Overwatch throws out plenty of loot boxes just from leveling up your account as you play.

    But the type where you spend money for the loot boxes - those do indeed fit exactly into the definition of gambling. ESRB needs to stop being in the pocket of the

  • by Computershack ( 1143409 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @12:15PM (#55615745)

    Here's the reason why.

    My wife plays Farmville type games on her tablet. She can earn things through gameplay or she can choose to buy items. Say she wants a tractor. She can either play for so many hours to earn enough in game credit to get a tractor or she can buy in real cash so many game credits and use those to buy a tractor.

    Now here is where it differs. In COD:WW2 I can choose to earn supply drops through game play or I can buy COD points to purchase supply drops. Same as the game my wife plays so all good so far yes? The problem is that when I open those supply drops what I get is chosen at random. I cannot buy a supply drop to get a specific weapon or upgrade I want, I get what is randomly assigned to it. At the point I am in the game the ones I earn through gameplay mostly contain duplicates of what I have so I get a paltry amount of armoury points awarded for the dupes. Therefore I buy $40 of COD points, use those to buy supply drops and I could find myself getting mostly duplicates and not getting the stuff I wanted or need.

    If you could buy the points and choose the items you wanted as you can with my wife's games then there would be no issue but you can't, what you get is random. And that is the whole problem with it and why some look on it as gambling.

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