Extra Credits raises concerns over lootbox legislation

    
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Just for the record, we are not the only ones engaged in the discussion and controversy surrounding lockboxes and lootboxes as of late. YouTube channel Extra Credits put together an entertaining and informative video that brings everyone up to speed on what’s happening with all of this, even if you’ve been out of the loop.

The video does raise some concerns about what might happen if and when governments get involved in legislating lootboxes under gambling laws. Some of these concerns have to do with states that consider gambling illegal, access to games with “gambling” if you are under 21 years of age, varying forms of lootboxes, and studios worrying about lawsuits from players over bans if that person has digital property with monetary value. Regular readers will recall a few months back when our SWTOR columnist considered the direct implications for his own game too.

“There are a whole bunch of effects this legislation could have on gaming beyond simply restricting lootboxes as a model,” the video argues. “So we have to be incredibly careful about how we approach this legislation.”

If nothing else, it’s a good prompt to pause and deeply consider what could happen if lootboxes were regulated as gambling. It also touches on ways that lootboxes could be created and operated on a more ethical level.

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Sally Bowls

Regarding the Faith Militant: While we have Hawaii state representatives using lockboxes to attack game companies, we have the President using the traditional violence argument.

Trump’s scapegoat meeting with game industry reps doesn’t worry me

k2apa
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k2apa

Companies should just go back to selling items Directly, instead of through RNG.

There, everything’s solved.

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Juu ken

I find the notion of digital items not having real world value rather … odd. That’s like saying a novel, news paper article, or even things like consulting have no real world value. All of these things have real world value, because they had to be made at some point. The process of making or providing them is work. It’s not physical, but mental work. In the case of digital items you even have prove, in the form of a piece of code. Someone had to think about it and write it. Someone was payed to do this and was then able to buy very real bread with this money. It’s a tiny part of the economic cycle. How can this have no real world value?

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Stiqman

This is definitely a situation where the industry better figure out a way to normalize and regulate itself real quick or they are going to get forcefully regulated… and they will not like those results at all. Major league team owners quickly learned that they better figure out a fair and non-greedy way of running their leagues in partnership with the players and their fans or else Congress would step in and hurt their bottom line far more than self-regulation would. They flirted with disaster several times over the years. Greed only goes so far until it’s noticed, and then punished. The game industry should figure that out.

Dantos
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Dantos

While there are points to be argued in this video for and against either side, one of my bigger gripes was with an earlier video about the fact that games should cost more. I do not doubt that game cost much more to make, with the cost of development and inflation both rising, but let us not for a second think that raising the price would make ANY of the cash shop/loot boxes go away, those remove the per customer revenue caps, while leaving the minimum in an ‘AAA’ game. The way they presented it seemed like an either/or choice and seemed disingenuous

kjempff
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kjempff

Go Hawaii! They got it right by that broader definition of loot boxes. It is clear that specifically targeting lootboxes with legislation will have no effect as there are easy workarounds that essentially is the same.
To be honest, the worries of possible problems with legislation are lost on me. I hate all kinds of shop monetization because it is devastating to the quality of our games, and I support any move(ment) that work on freeing us from the scourge.
It may sound harsh but I have no problems with pushing this f2p curse out of gaming business by any means possible, or at least making it as unprofitable as possible. So yeah legislation on all shop mechanics is greatly welcome, and then the possible problems that may cause will need to be adressed from there, instead of arguments to block a good movement.

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Robert Mann

Sadly, so long as the only concern for the people behind these companies is the bottom line, and so long as their terrible reputation for these things does not impact sales, we will merely see them continue to dig for more ways to get a buck without actually doing any worthy work.

I’d love to see a company create standards for a subscription based or B2P game. X% of subs revenue reinvested, or each new content release with at least X amount of stuff requiring purchase, for example. I believe that not only would gamers who are frustrated welcome that, but it would in turn generate an increased effort on the titles that would gain a studio much positive recognition.

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Annoyed badger

I hate loot boxes, but I can live with them on the condition that they disclose the odds of every item inside them upfront.

Anything else is just shady as fuck. Either its a fair drop rate the devs will stand by and admit, or its fucking awful and that’s why they don’t admit it.

Be honest, I may not like it, but I’ll accept it, continue to be shady fucks and you can fuck right off.

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Sray

I think Jim Sterling made an excellent point in a semi-rebuttal video that he made to one of EC’s recent videos: they are as beholden to the status quo as many others (such as himself, as he admitted) are to tearing that status quo down. This means that there exists a strong possibility that either side “winning” might not necessarily be a good thing for consumers. In the abscence of large game publishers, the core gaming market (consoles and PC) collapses, leaving us either primarily with mobile gaming or a bunch of PC-only, micro-budget, eternal early access shovelware games. The alternative is, of course, the consumers financially grabbing their ankles and thinking of their places if AAA publishers get to contimue to run amok. So EC proposing the idea of a middle ground is a step in a positive direction, but given their bias’ I would no more want their blueprint of how it should be done than I would Jim Sterling’s.

I’m not sure I have any real point, but that was where my mind is on this right now.

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TotalCowage .

Now compare this video to the series they did under their Extra History channel praising John Snow and his attempts to get legislation covering water-borne pathogens in London. Was early Victorian science perfect? No. Were the legislative approaches perfect? No. But it was progress towards better conditions, and that’s what mattered… EH recognised the harm being done at the time, and deeply admire the man, the efforts, and the cause of reducing it.

… However if Extra Credits worked in water industry then, well how dare you suggest there’s a flaw with the underlying industry and it’s apathy towards the best interests of customers? And we can’t have legislation, because who knows where it will end up, you may end up banning water itself! And people should be free to choose which ever pump they enjoy the taste of best, even if one particular pump is riddled with cholera…

The game’s industry today is just as convinced as the laisse-faire cut throat capitalists of the 1800s that it not only has the ability, but also the right to exploit every last penny from their backers without any responsibilities towards them. And EH/EC can’t see this because they’re too close to that industry.

And that’s especially obvious because it requires a willful blindness of even recent game industry history; of how it DID once have a far healthier model, one proven to work for all concerned; Buy to Own existed for decades and even alongside the rampant tape-to-tape or X-Copying of discs in the 8bit and 16bit eras, Sensible Software were still able to buy themselves multiple sports cars… Even today, breakout Indie hits prove you don’t need ridiculous budgets to be a huge financial success…

But if a game does fail… so what? That’s supposed to be the main benefit of capitalism; the market decides which products are worthy, and weeds out the bad ideas through market pressure. But the industry doesn’t want to actually earn an audience any more. It wants the right to be guaranteed obscene profits no matter what… and is doing so in ways that are increasingly harmful to its own consumers.

The current state of things though? The industry exists in an age where Regulatory Capture is so complete that business basically controls government… You have to be an incredible screw up to even vaguely attract public comment; heck the endless gun debate proves that as long as it’s other people suffering because of your product, not the customers themselves, it doesn’t matter how many dead there are, there’s still not going to be legislation because the customers don’t want it. Yes, there’s never been a better time to be a business; they’re even classed as “Persons” in the US now.

And yet even that dominance is not enough; Oh how horrendous it is that people might still be talking about how badly they feel treated, even if they aren’t able to stop us doing it right now, and the worst that will happen is we might have yet another pointless sticker on our boxes…

History provides plenty of examples of when the King was just too comfortable in his palaces to be concerned with the rumblings of the mob outside… and there were always courtiers prepared to tell him things were fine… until it was too late. The gaming industry is similarly heading for another revolutionary crash. And they’ll have no one to blame but themselves for it.

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Sally Bowls

DID once have a far healthier model, one proven to work for all concerned;

I don’t see how that is relevant. I can quickly think of many examples of things that worked well (both was profitable and “better” than now”) in the past and now in these internet days are no longer viable.

Newspapers, Magazines, big network news departments supporting a nightly news…

Newspapers used to be very profitable in the past. IMO, they were clearly better (more insight, more analysis, more investigation) than people reading free “news” in their FB feed. OTOH, those days are over. Even the NYT said they think they have about another decade of the paper newspaper.

tl;dr: Just because something worked well in the past, does not mean it is viable now, especially if it is competing with some new “free” model.

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Arktouros

It’s a change thing man. People are bad at adapting to change.

The people who complain about they used to buy offline games and there wasn’t all these Cash Shops monetization models are the video game player equivalent of grandpa telling you soda used to cost a nickle and candy bars were only a penny.