The ESRB proposes new microtransaction label, while Hawaii’s Chris Lee questions the ESA on lockboxes

    
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The Entertainment Software Rating Board claims it’s taking steps to solve the lockbox crisis, in part in response to bills before multiple state governments as well as discussions in (and ultimata from) the US senate’s commerce, science, and transporation committee. ESRB President Patricia Vance told journalists today that the non-government body will mandate special labels applied to video game boxes notifying consumers that in-app purchases and cash-shop transactions are part of those games. It won’t be explicit to lootboxes, she argues, because “a large majority of parents don’t know what a lootbox is.” It’s set up a new website to explain parental controls to parents as well, though we don’t recall anyone asking for that.

But maybe don’t get too excited. Polygon argues that the proposal “feels like a plot to get legislators off the back of the industry, not a serious attempt to fix anything,” since pretty much every video game would have this relatively generic label and there’s an overt attempt to deflect all real responsibility to parents. Moreover, the ESRB still isn’t requiring publishers to disclose odds for their gambleboxes.

Meanwhile, Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee, who’s been one of the legislators at the political forefront of the push for reasonable regulation of games with lockbox gambling, released a video of an ESA lobbyist sitting for a lockbox-related government-run consumer protection hearing on the record – the first ever time for that, Lee believes.

During the bizarre hearing, at which the consumer rep seemed more prepared than the ESA rep to answer questions about the ESA, the ESA fell back on the ERSB, which it claims has been “proactive” on consumer protections, but admitted that the ESA and ESRB do not believe lockboxes constitute gambling. Multiple questions posed by Lee also go unanswered entirely as it appeared the ESA rep (white shirt and tie) doesn’t know the answers or gives incomplete or misleading answers.

Bonus, Lee’s video inexplicably begins with 30 seconds of a topless Lee surfing because obviously that’s just what everyone does in Hawaii all the time. And that’s not even the best part. The best part is when the lobbyist in the Hawaiian shirt cracks up over Lee’s “sense of pride and accomplishment” remark, which may or may not have been intentional.

Source: YouTube, GIbiz, Polygon, ESRB. Thanks, Rafael!

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Sally Bowls

Disclaimers remind me of Prop 65 warnings.
http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-pro-con2-2009nov02-story.html

Whether you are pumping gas or buying a fillet of salmon, your eyes have no doubt landed on an ominous sign documenting the presence of “chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

Such alarming notices began appearing in the state in 1986 thanks to Proposition 65, otherwise known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which prohibits businesses from discharging potentially harmful chemicals in drinking water and requires them to disclose the presence of such chemicals on their premises. The 19-page list of hundreds of potentially dangerous chemicals kept by the state is updated annually.

Today, the warnings are everywhere: parking lots, hardware stores, hospitals and just about any decent-sized business including, as of May, those of medical marijuana suppliers — because marijuana smoke is now on the list of known carcinogens.

So several times a day, one is warned about cancer-causing chemicals and you quickly become inured to it. It was great for lawyers, probably good for sign makers but I am not sure about the cost/benefit.

I don’t see “must be 13”, “must be 18”, “must be 18” labels slowing down too many “children’s” purchases of entertainment including movies, music and games. But I guess it would not have much effect and would not cost that much to slap yet another sticker on a game.

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deekay_plus

i came back to this on my feeds and my name highlighted to read from a day trip i can happily say is over now and nice and snug in mydxrtacer leet gaming chair XD

sounds a fair bit better than a one size fits all label, with a full anlogous to the current ESRB rating system, labeling for all 2ndary and tertiary sales models of games.

what comes to mind is this would’ve been handy 15 years ago when i watched friends buy mmo’s from gamestop not realizing they’d need a credit card and usually no game time cards available anywhere handy to play them, often becoming a write off as a result (even in 2003 trust to give credit card details to even the most legit companies was not high)

DXDcjF1VMAI-DTH.jpg large.jpg
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Armsbend

I like this idea – A day-glo pink label that covers the entire box that says in screaming green lettering “THIS GAME PROMOTES GAMBLING BY A LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING NO TALENT DEVELOPER”.

If it is a downloadable game it takes over your computer and blue screens you on the downloading screen.

These measures should get the message across.

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deekay_plus

s a v a g e

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Arktouros

The issue here that is ignored is what constitutes gambling.

For example Chris Lee brought up the point regarding the UK finding that the “Skincomony” in certain games, where skins are gained via lockboxes then able to be sold for money, hinges on the idea that such items can be resold for money adding real value to items earned.

However that kind of system represents a fraction of the sorts of systems that are out there. For example in most MMO games the gamble box offerings can’t be resold or traded at all and those that do certainly not for real money.

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Cyclone Jack

Absolutely worthless label, might as well just have it say, “This is a video game.” ESRB needs to either step up to the plate or GTFO. Parents may not know what looboxes are, but they sure as hell know what real money gambling is.

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Arktouros

the lockbox crisis

That’s the real joke here.

All of this is posturing. From the video documenting this politician’s stances against unpopular topics (net neutrality, lockboxes) to the ESRB again reiterating lockboxes are not gambling and will slap a label that covers basically every game out there. It’s all meaningless gestures to make themselves look great and like they are part of the solution.

I mean look at that ESA rep for how serious they’re taking this. Fuck ESA, contact my ass I’ll run circles around that Chris Lee dude. That boy softballed so many easy topics to knock out of the park. I mean the UK and the skinconomy? Oh my God you should be pointing to the bleachers cause that’s going to the moon with how far you can destroy that topic.

What I want to see is what the actual laws they come up with and how they plan to actually enforce them. I don’t think at all what this guy wants is even remotely feasible on a state level and there’s absolutely zero chance it will ever happen on a federal level.

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Greaterdivinity

Given how vague the label is it’s entirely pointless and in no way actually responds to the issues that are being discussed by consumers and lawmakers.

I get the ESA is an industry group and their interests lie in protecting publishers/developers, but this is transparently stupid. Legislation to regulate this kind of behavior can’t come fast enough.

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rafael12104

LOL! Go Chris Lee!!!

You got to love this guy. Start the update with a little let’s surf montage. Lol. Why not? Why the frak not? Lol!

Next, Hawaii, steps up to plate on Net Neutrality. Heh. Pretty sure the issue is not solved in Hawaii, but it is interesting.

And then, the “piece de resistance” the ESA rep speaking with all the effectiveness of Elmer Fud.

You bet your ass the “sense of pride and accomplishment” comment was intentional! LOL

So, yeah, this is hardly a US Congressional interrogation, with glitz, lawyers, and tons of cameras. This is Hawaiian shirts, crying babies and an ESA rep who is undoubtedly not on their A-team. But it is a good start and it continues an effort that is already snowballing.

As for the ESA’s warning label bullshit? It is a very transparent attempt to do the bare minimum and buy time, if nothing else.

I look forward to more, but this time from the US Senate.

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Dug From The Earth

The ridiculousness of this is scary

This will put this warning label on game that are completely and vastly different.

IE: Both Witcher 3 AND Battlefront will have this label, even though only one of those games is part of the problem that led to the ESRB taking action in the first place.

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Arktouros

You think this is ridiculously scary? Wait till they add excise taxes onto video game sales to pay for enforcing the laws they came up with to protect consumers from companies trying to get money from you who will immediately pass the cost back onto you. Enforcing laws ain’t free!

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Siphaed

I’m just up for a requirement of developers listing the odds of getting something specific.

Lottery tickets list the odds of winning a prize by law, so why shouldn’t these? And if that is the case, then they should also list each and every time they change them too.

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Venomlicious

I just don’t know why but they just want every kid to gamble these days. My daughter was in the toy store with me and all she wants are blind bag toys or lol balls with random crap. They need to take a look at these too because they are gambling. Pretty soon you will turn on the TV and hit the guide button and will have to watch what it lands on with a spin of the channels.

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Arktouros

Yea and the next thing you know they’re going to have packs of cards of baseball players and football players and they’re going to be randomly assigned in the packages and it’s like “Where the hell is my Jerry Rice card Tops? You know I only bought this package of football cards for Jerry Rice Tops. You’re such a predator Tops preying on children and gambling addicts Tops. I’m going to get some legislation assigned against you one day just wait and see.” am I right? I swear companies these days think they can get away with things they’ve literally beendoingforevernowbutsomehoweveryoneisn’taddictedtocardswaitwhatohgodmyargumentdoesn’tholdupunderexistingthingssomeonebailmeout.

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Skoryy

When I was a kid, I got to watch the Ohio Lottery drawings on TV. I never got a miniature Browns helmet from the gacha at the supermarket. The department store downtown I went to go see Santa at is now a Jack casino.

But yeah, kids are really gonna learn gambling from an MMO. And not the media frenzy every time the Powerball hits nine figures.