A formal UK petition requesting that video game gambling laws be adjusted to include language covering lockboxes passed 10,000 signatures earlier this week, ensuring that the petition would receive a response from the government, which it now has, although no one concerned about the issue will be impressed at the reply.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Tracey Crouch is a bit of a dodge, like PEGI’s statement earlier this week. As Eurogamer points out, Crouch’s reply – repeated verbatim for each question asked – refers to the UK Gambling commission’s paper on third-party gambling websites, which as you’ll recall since we covered it has nothing to do with in-game lockboxes.
So, MMO players. Are you tired of hearing about lockboxes and gambleboxes? It feels like we’ve been complaining about them for like six or seven years now, probably because we have. It wasn’t cute back when City of Heroes was trying it, nope. Heck, it wasn’t cute back when Star Wars Galaxies was trying it with card packs. Now it’s every damn game, and it’s gone way beyond MMOs. I’m not sick of hearing about it myself. I’m just sick of dealing with it like a pestilence making me hate the games and developers who exploit them.
Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: As more AAA online gaming studios figure out that lockbox gambling garbage is a fast ticket to easy money, more mainstream gamers are catching wind of the scam and raising objections, so it’s not just MMO players all by our lonesomes anymore. Indeed, this week multiple game critics, YouTubers, and review services have come out against lockboxes, from Boogie to TotalBiscuit, the latter of whom has called for ESRB intervention. Reviews aggregator OpenCritic has further said it’s “going to take a stand against loot boxes” by taking crappy business practices into account. The ESRB doesn’t care, by the way, and as blogger Isarii has pointed, the self-regulatory body has conveniently twisted the meaning of gambling to avoid dealing with the problem, thereby failing to protect us from it, but that’s just making people angrier.
So hey, you know what, studios? Keep screwing up with lootboxes. Keep attracting mainstream anger, keep disrespecting us, until it all boils over, one way or another, and you can’t exploit us anymore. And in the meantime, people? Stop. Buying. Lockboxes.
“Pay-to-win” is old news now — game designers’ new plan for hoovering all the cash out of our wallets is “pay-to-loot.”
According to IGN’s Nathan Lawrence, who dives into the topic today, that’s the term game psychologists are using to describe what online gamers have been derisively referring to as gambleboxes and lockboxes for years: You’re essentially buying chances at a thing, paying to roll the dice and let the RNG gods determine your reward, padding the game’s coffers all the while.
The gambling references aren’t accidental; one expert calls lootboxes a “poker machine-like experience,” while another points to the phenomenon as an exploitation of human nature:
Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Trend of 2016, which was awarded to the staggering resurgence of MMORPG expansions last year. This year, all trends were back on the table. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMORPG Trend of 2016 is…
Last week, I stirred up a hornet’s nest by bringing up the topic of lockboxes and how I really didn’t mind them in general.
It’s an important topic given that Elder Scrolls Online
just released its version of lockboxes in its last update and Star Wars: The Old Republic
has run into its share of controversial situations regarding its lockboxes. I’d like to continue that discussion this week.
I mentioned in the article last week and many times in the comments that I have some major caveats to how I think lockboxes should work, and I mentioned that neither ESO or SWTOR actually handles lockboxes well. Both have their good points, but neither does it perfectly.
This week, I’d like to dive into what could make lockboxes simultaneously viable for studio funding and far less frustrating for the customer. If lockboxes are here to stay, why not try to fix them? Let’s look at three ways to make lockboxes better — for everyone.
Every once in a while in an MMO, the desire to play with numbers grips me, like the time I hand-crafted a thousand drinks in Star Wars Galaxies to test whether sub-comp assembly mattered as much as theorists claimed. (It didn’t.)
I am not alone in my insanity. Massively OP reader The_Grand_Nagus tipped us off to an equally determined/nutty Star Trek Online player, who recently put his napkin math skills to work on a much more important problem than video game booze: video game gambling. He opened 10,000 lockboxes in STO to estimate the odds of pulling out a dreadnought. (It’s about 1%.)
That led The_Grand_Nagus — and me — to wonder why MMO studios don’t (and whether they should) disclose the odds of winning when you’re cracking open their gambleboxes.