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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

EA Still Believes in Loot Boxes, Will 'Push Forward' With Their Use (variety.com) 145

Electronic Arts will "push forward" with loot boxes in its future video games, despite admitting that all loot boxes are gambling. From a report: "As you might imagine, we're working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, many of whom we've been working with for some time and have evaluated and established that programs like 'FIFA Ultimate Team' are not gambling," Wilson said. "And we don't believe that 'FIFA Ultimate Team' -- all loot boxes are gambling."

The issue of loot boxes, a form of microtransaction that has players spending real money to purchase a virtual box and then open it to discover what's inside it, came to a head late last year with the release of EA's "Star Wars Battlefront II" which featured a form of the box that players felt was costly and unfair. EA later pulled the form of microtransaction and completely retooled it before reintroducing a more accepted form of loot box to the game.

While the debate continues over loot boxes and whether they are a form of illegal gambling, Wilson explained Tuesday why EA believes they're not. "Firstly, players always receive a specified number of items in each ['FIFA Ultimate Team'] box. And secondly, we don't provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items in virtual currency for real-world money. And there's no way we can make value assign to FUT items in game currency. And while we forbid the transfer of items of in-the-game currency outside, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it's going on in an illegal environment, and we work with regulators in various jurisdictions to achieve that."

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EA Still Believes in Loot Boxes, Will 'Push Forward' With Their Use

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  • People can choose to simply not play the game.
    • by Ries ( 765608 )
      Pyramid schemes should be legal too, they can choose to simply not participate.
      • Taken to the extreme, it applies to everything.
        Don't like air pollution? Feel free to stop breathing.
        Don't like turning on your TV and watching porn being freely broadcasted during the day? Feel free to stop watching TV.
        Don't like your neighbors' loud music? Feel free to stop hearing it.

    • 13 year olds can choose to not smoke cigarettes, or do drugs too right? We should really unban everything.

      That's the thing about gambling laws. For the most part they don't exist to stop gambling, but exist to stop a vulnerable group who are incapable of understanding their meaning of their choices from getting addicted to gambling from gambling.

      You want to add gambling to video games? Fine, allow those video games only to be sold and played in casinos or ban the real world consequences of the action (i.e.

  • Thats’s what EA actually said. Full post on reddit. [slashdot.org]
  • by Unknown User ( 4795349 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @12:54PM (#56581940)
    ...make better games instead. But that wouldn't give them as much $$$
    • It's like when burgers were 99 cents. There's a point where folks don't want to pay more. For videogames is $60 bucks. As more folks entered gaming that helped keep prices down. But let's not forget that a $60 copy of Street Fighter II in 1995 is around $100 bucks in today's money and needed fewer people to program it than Street Fighter V (which I paid $15 for on sale).
      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        Ya never know. AAA VR games could easily break that $60 price point and people would still buy them. Recall that the move to $60 games happened with the HD generation, where game production (art) costs rose pretty dramatically. DLC and preorders were probably the main reasons base game costs didn't go up again this console generation. Also now, even among console gamers, there's a growing problem of huge game backlogs driving down demand for new games, made worse by so many titles being huge open worlds wit

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      ...make better games instead. But that wouldn't give them as much $$$

      And fuck Origin right off.

      Simple, EA, make better games and get rid of Origin... Erm... to what end? EA wants to make money and as long as people keep buying NB/H/FL games on consoles, they've got no impetus to change. I on the other hand have stopped buying EA games... I've even stopped pirating them as nothing remotely interesting has come out lately (I didn't even bother with that Mass Effect game as I heard it was dreadful).

  • The last video game I spent any time with was Warcraft 2. After that I lost interest. I see now that I'm not missing out on anything.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jahoda ( 2715225 )
      Ok edgy badass grandpa. Video games are stupid and it's a sign of your superior taste and intellect to not play one for 22 years. :Eyeroll:
  • Jesse James... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @12:59PM (#56581990)

    ...believed in bank and train robbery right up to the bitter end, when someone else who believed murdering him for bounty money was ok. The trouble with belief lies in its disconnection with reality. I don't know (or care) if loot boxes are gambling, I do know they suck and undermine games.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ...for their upcoming game "Anthem."

      It looks like it could be a very nice game. They are going to utterly ruin it with loot boxes.

      Oh well, I guess there is always Warframe....

    • they've been in the Fifa & NBA games for years. It wasn't a problem until Star Wars Battlefront because the hardcore gamers who play it were pretty vocal whereas the Fifa & NBA players just kind of accepted it (easier to do when you only play one or two games a year).
    • Jesse James... believed in bank and train robbery right up to the bitter end

      Bullshit. Show me any evidence that he believed they were acceptable and should be legal, and that he shouldn't be hunted and prosecuted for committing the crimes. Oh, I'm sure he had his rationalizations and justifications, but I seriously doubt they rose to the level of believing that bank and train robbery should be legal.

      • All criminals believe their crimes should be legal: this way they wouldn't be prosecuted for doing them.

        • All criminals believe their crimes should be legal: this way they wouldn't be prosecuted for doing them.

          No. Criminals would like to get away with their crimes. That's different from honestly believing they shouldn't be illegal.

  • Not gambling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RandomFactor ( 22447 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @01:07PM (#56582064)

    I find the argument that loot boxes are implemented in a way that is 'not gambling' if you can't sell the results for real world money, specious.

    Time is money.

    If a loot box will potentially save players hours of time getting to some goal, then the value of the loot box is the time it will save. The fact a player can't sell it to someone else is irrelevant.

    Any non-cosmetic lootbox mechanic is gambling and should be regulated entirely as such.

    • Indeed, even their argument about it not being gambling because you can't sell or trade the in-game items for real world money is missing - quite conveniently - an entire realm where real world money does come into play: league gaming. Let's say loot boxes are guaranteed to give you exactly 1 rare item, 2 uncommon items, and 6 common items, each of which come from a pool of available items. EA seems to think it's fine that it's random so long as you are guaranteed to get a fixed number of items. Fine, but
    • Keep in mind some loot box systems give players items you can't get any other way. So "Time is money" would not apply to those cases. But, I would say that money is too narrow a definition for gambling... you can gamble for anything valuable to you, even digital items that cost nothing to produce* and have no assigned monetary value.

      * - Yes, there are typically labor costs involved, but one time labor costs divided over a near-infinite quality of items is as close to 0 as you're going to get.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is how Pachinko parlors work around the anti-gambling laws in Japan.

      The machines do not award money, they just award more balls. You can trade your balls back in for non-cash prizes (stuffed animals, decorative tokens, etc). You can then go right next door, to a different business, and pawn your prizes. The pawn shops sell them back to the Pachinko parlors, of course.

      "Oh it's not gambling, because we don't authorize the resale of the prizes."
      But so long is there is any technical means, at all, of re

    • by pots ( 5047349 )
      That's not the argument. The argument is that for a thing to constitute gambling it needs to potentially result in the loss of a wager. There's no chance of loss with loot boxes: you always get something. So buying a loot box constitutes a purchase, rather than a wager, even though you don't know exactly what it is that you're purchasing.

      This is a legally valid [thelawdictionary.org] argument, even though it wouldn't fly anywhere outside of a courtroom.
      • by Strider- ( 39683 )

        What if what you get is worth less than what you paid for the loot box? I suppose it's a bit specious given that digital items can be reproduced at a whim, and are therefore costless.

        • by pots ( 5047349 )
          I'm not sure what they're claiming in that regard, but my guess would be something like: "You are purchasing entertainment, all digital items belong to us and not to you and can be removed or altered at any time without notice."

          Okay that's a little snarky, but these are items which can't be sold or refunded and for the most part do not translate into having any real-world value. Some items might be rarer than others, and some might be more "valued" by the player base, but any such determinations of value
    • I find the argument that loot boxes are implemented in a way that is 'not gambling' if you can't sell the results for real world money, specious.

      More to the point...

      "we don't provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items in virtual currency for real-world money."

      It's a form of gambling that the player can't win.

    • They mean it's not gambling by the legal definition of gambling in various countries. It does feed upon the same psychological mechanisms that gambling does, but they don't care about ethics when there is so much money to be made.

    • Exactly. Reselling is a red-herring. Hell it's only needed because some gambling laws exclusively define value that way. But the reality is that parting with money for something which may net you disappointment, or may net you joy is inherently no different whether that item has value or not. The results are the same: potential endorphin release for a good reward encourages you to do it again gamifying an addiction all the while parting with money.

  • If EA wants to disassociate loot boxes with gambling, they just have to do one of two things:

    1. remove the financial outlay element.
    2. remove the 'possibility of losing' element.

    Now, it's EA, so we can summarily dismiss the first option. The second one, however, is relatively simple: ensure that any time a player purchases a loot box, at least one item in it is an upgraded model of an item the player already has. This way, there's a guarantee to the player that they are paying for an upgrade, while the inab

    • ....The always win scenario would still provide a means for a game maker to exploit, where instead of getting an empty crate (or whatever the "try again" thing looks like) you do get an upgrade that is super small percentage upgrade to one of the items---enough that while it is an improvement, it's ineffectual..
    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Even if duplicates are forbidden, it's still a blind box. If someone REALLY wants one specific thing, and there's a 0.1% chance of getting it, it's still gambling. Of course they'd get it eventually (after they buy out the whole store) but it's simple to stock the store with hundreds/thousands of things, making it impractical to get that rare desired thing by process of elimination.
      If it exploits gambling psychology, it's morally equivalent to gambling, regardless of specific mechanics.

  • Team Fortress 2, Rocket League, etc- you buy them, they have cool cosmetics in them, but do not change the gameplay. Yes. Good.

    If a lootbox gives you an advantage in the game, it is not good.

    Simple as that.

    • Yes, but it's not related to anti-gambling law. It would be silly for lawmen to enforce particular views on fairness in games.
      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        It would be silly for lawmen to enforce particular views on fairness in games.

        Pay to win mechanics = your cubicle getting flashbanged by a SWAT team.

  • This is a battle between the casual gamer and the "hardcore" gamer. Those truly invested in games and what they can accomplish in game worlds appear to have no issue buying loot boxes. This is why they are profitable, gamers are buying them. Now the casual gamer that has no interest in this isn't going to spend the money, but also probably won't continue to buy games because they will feel they can't compete. Over time as gamers spend more and start to create communities were competition is only fun for th
    • Not sure I read right but you say harcore gamers buy loot boxes and casual don't?

      I think you got that the wrong way round.

      A certain MMO went free to play and introsuced loot boxes. The dumb casual's don't realise they have ruined the game mechanics (was not designed as FTP from the start), but the company makes more off then then they would have had if they subscribed.

        $10 a month sounds like a chore to these fools but spending $100 when they want to is nothing. Idiots.

  • Good thing that Disney cracked down!

  • Card packs are loot boxes. You're buying a random assortment of cards in the hopes that some of them will have value. The cards have monetary value in the secondary market.
    • Almost anything can be viewed that way by those criteria. You could buy a large number of CPUs in the hopes that some can overclock exceptionally well and be resold at a higher price. A delidded 8700K that can hit 5.2 GHz goes for $659 [siliconlottery.com], which is ~$300 over its retail value. Almost any product that has variability in terms of quality can be viewed as a loot box if you consider monetary value in a secondary market. I'm not sure if that's a good way to go about categorizing things.
      • But that's not really an apt comparison. You're not buying a blind box where who knows what type of CPU you're getting. You're getting a minimum amount of CPU for the money you spend, as advertised.

        To have the same comparison to trading card games, you'd have to get something that's advertised, with the potential to get something something extra. Like...there's a booster pack where you definitely get a Charmander, a Squirtle, and a Bulbasaur. You may or may not get a few extra cards beyond that.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      What I never understood about MTG is why people didn't just fab up their own cards. It's just a piece of cardstock with ink on it.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        Those are called 'proxies' and their use is restricted in official tournaments, unlike genuine cards. Also, it undermines 'ante' (putting down a random card that you lose, if you lose the match) which was originally supposed to be an important part of the game.

  • I actually don't mind loot boxes at all, I think they can be kind of fun if done well (admittedly there is often room for improvement).

    What I do dislike about loot boxes though, is that it seems like in games that have them I spend too much time opening and allocating "loot". That is the real buzz-kill for me, I don't play games as much as I used to so I mainly want to play, not run a warehouse sim for exotic weapons and gear. As a result I end up dropping interest in games that have loot boxes more often

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Oh god now I'm fearing what Borderlands 3 might look like with loot boxes. One enemy camp has 20 loot containers, 10 of which are locked with keys you have to buy with real money; but wait, there are different colored keys which guarantee different minimum rarity levels for the items the key-unlocked containers have.

      • Yeah the different colored keys thing is especially irksome when found. I have a stockpile of machine guns and other weapons, I really need a red flamingo key to open this lock? How about my friend Vera here has a little talk with your lock for a few minutes, it has a steel coated tongue...

  • EA: Enough Already. Good businesses don't operate on principles such as "Well gee bob, we're only screwing 49% of our customers..."
    • EA: Exploitative Assholes: noun, A company who takes advantages of teens and adults by pushing addictive gambling behavior.

  • I remember gumball machines full of small toys from when I was a kid. You'd drop your hard earned quarter in the slot and turn the dial with great anticipation that you'd get the cool x-ray ring or reflective sticker featured on the front of the machine. When the sort of egg shaped container dropped, you were generally disappointed to find a gummy artificial worm or a plastic spider ring that you had to remove the flashing from yourself. But, I once lucked out and got one of those flower shaped rings tha

    • Gumball machines and so on don't charge $15 for a bunch of unlock keys.

      In any case, it was low value and probably not addictive. The question isn't whether it's gambling -- in both cases, it is. The question is if it should be illegal.

      The question here is the dollars involved and that it's directed at children. And are they saying the act of unlocking a box is fun gameplay in and of itself?

      How about publishing statistics, including average number of dollars to spend to get each piece? I guarantee they k

  • "It's not kids gambling!", EA gambled.

  • And I'll continue pushing my money toward other companies that actually listen to their player base, make quality games, and don't try to drain my wallet into the triple and quadruple digits before I have the full game.

    • Can you point me towards the company providing games and listening to their user base? I can't seem to find any.
      • Blizzard - routinely listen to their user base and adjust game balance
        Epic Games - Unreal Tournament is community-driven
        Digital Extremes - Active Warframe community, in-game updates even acknowledge community issues.
        Tripwire Interactive - The Killing Floor games have a lot of community involvement. Forums have a fair amount of suggestions and the game itself has lots of user generated content.
        Lots of indie developers listen to feedback from their users as well. The Steam pre-release pages are evidence there

        • Also add CD Projekt Red (CDPR) to that list. They self publish games in the Witcher franchise. Super awesome company - games are very high quality, and they don't try to screw their customers with things like nonsense DLC content. Yes, they do offer DLCs, but these are essentially whole new stories in the game with the two expansions offering as much gameplay as the Witcher 3 base game itself (40+ hours). CDPR has also released numerous patches to the base game for free many years after release.

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      The last thing I bought from EA was The Ultimate Collection for C&C (with all the C&C games in it) and that was long before all this microtransaction and loot box crap became a thing. None of the games I own have microtransactions or loot boxes and I will not buy or play any game that has them. (and no Fallout 4 Creators Club is NOT microtransactions since you can buy every single piece of content available at a given point in time and not need to spend any more money, if anything it counts as DLC)

  • msmash's comment and the summary are 180 degrees apart.

    Electronic Arts will "push forward" with loot boxes in its future video games, despite admitting that all loot boxes are gambling.

    Wilson explained Tuesday why EA believes they're not.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      The confusion is due to this ambiguous line:

      "And we don't believe that 'FIFA Ultimate Team' -- all loot boxes are gambling."

      Let me rephrase that as "And we don't believe that 'FIFA Ultimate Team' ... all loot boxes, are gambling."
      As in, we don't believe that FUT nor all loot boxes are gambling.
      And the submitter parsed this wrong and editorialized his false conclusion. Editors, where art thou?

  • Will push forward with continuing to not purchase any of their products.

  • If you're paying for the CHANCE to get something, then as far as I'm concerned it's a lottery-style gamble. You might be guaranteed 10 rare items, but it's not guaranteed you'll get something you want. You might as well flush your money down the toilet x% of the time.
  • This works because EA keeps making lots of money off this system.

    People need to stop buying games that have this, and also tell others to do the same. Even if the game is free, don't download or play.

    Not buying the loot boxes isn't enough.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      I have a feeling 'stop buying those games' has been about as effective as 'stop voting in incompetent/corrupt politicians'.

  • Players spend real money to gamble on Draft Kings fantasy teams in MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL. How is this not considered gambling yet loot boxes that don't payout real money is? All these pro leagues not only tolerate this, they take money from Draft Kings who is an official sponsor? What would Kenesaw Mountain Landis think of this?
  • Life is a gamble.
    Go into business for yourself and it's a gamble.
    Work for someone else and it's a gamble.
    Plant a tomato seed and it's a gamble.
    Sitting in a dark hole trying to avoid gambling is a gamble.
    Everything is gambling.

    Gambling is good.

    Electronic games, games in general in fact, are simulations that help teach people how to deal with risk management - also known as gambling.

  • Here in the US, about 50% of the arcades I see are not video games, but gambling games. Is this the case in the Netherlands and Belgium?

    The games I am talking about take a few forms:
    1) Roll a coin down a track and if it gets in the right place you get a prize
    2) Pull a lever and if it lands on the right spot you get a prize (or a larger number of tickets)
    3) Hit a button at a certain time. Sometimes these games "feel" like games but there is not enough fidelity so they might be random. (Ex: Stacker [wikipedia.org])

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      These games are ostensibly 'skill games'. I.e. there's an element of skill involved, even if it's merely timing. Then again, there's an element of skill in poker, blackjack etc. ...
      These sketchy games can theoretically be won with skill alone, although it's understood that the skill is essentially impossible to rely upon, and thus it is effectively chance.

  • EA Still Believes in extracting as much cash from their customers as possible, Will 'Push Forward' With Their Plans

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

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