ESA president argues ‘video games never take money from a player and leave them with nothing’

GamesIndustry.biz has a fantastic piece illuminating the Entertainment Software Association’s apparent game plan on lockboxes going forward. The publication recaps a lengthy talk ESA president Mike Gallagher gave at the Nordic Game Conference seemingly designed to both incite concern over lockbox regulation and extol the virtues of the free market.

Gallagher primed the audience by comparing the lootbox controversy to the WHO’s so-called “gaming disorder” crusade and the US government’s unfounded attempts to link gaming and gun violence, then moved on to arguing that the gaming industry’s “right” to self-regulation and the “instantaneous feedback” of consumerism are what we should be trusting to keep lootboxes properly in check, not governments like Belgium’s and the Netherlands’, which have already curbed gambleboxes in their countries.

Gallagher also downplays the effectiveness of government at understanding the nuances of the lootbox debate, effectively suggesting we should worry ourselves over what harm world governments might enact if they confusedly overreach and that they don’t understand just how long these aggressive monetization mechanics have been in games, as if that somehow should excuse them. That particular bit – the idea that government officials are blubbering idiots who couldn’t possibly understand something as intricate as video game gambling – will definitely amuse those of you who watched Hawaii State Rep Chris Lee completely school an ESA rep at a hearing earlier this year, even sneaking in a “sense of pride and accomplishment” remark.

Ultimately, Gallagher rejected the idea that perhaps the the gaming industry should take a lesson from the impact of the GDPR on global business. “We can’t go to the lowest common denominator of government around the world, and make that the standard the rest of the world has to live by, and limit the trajectory of the industry,” he told GIbiz.

“That’s not the best approach. Instead, we believe it’s best to be clear about the facts, and make sure those carry the day around the world, so we drive an outcome that best extends the [games industry’s] frontiers and looks after the interests of gamers. […] Going to the one or two isolated over-reactions, seeing how those over-reactions play to one or two governments, and then making that the standard and doing that industry-wide? That’s not going to be productive for the industry, or for gamers. Let’s inform first, continue to self-regulate, and move ahead that way. It’s worked great for us over the last 20 years.”

The whole piece is worth a read over on GIbiz to get a full understanding of how the ESA means to play the game in the current political climate.

Source: GIbiz. Thanks, Winterskorn!
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kgptzac

The funny thing about self regulation is that the notion isn’t inherently better than over-regulation, and this guy’s quotes seem to support my view.

Ocho
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Ocho

Dude just called Belgium and the Netherlands the “least common denominator”. Politics these days is just a game of who can be the biggest a-hole and get away with it.

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Peregrine Falcon

These days? When hasn’t it been like that?

kjempff
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kjempff

As a rabbit farmer I want to argue that no regulation is needed when it comes to how many bunnies is allowed in each cage or what is appropriate form of transport, or any other rules for that matter. If the rabbits are unhappy they can just stop living at my farm and pick a better one; besides we rabbt farmers are the most qualified to decide these matters, so let us self regulate..
Nothing bad ever came from having the fox watch the hens.

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Peregrine Falcon

Just because some politician doesn’t know anything about video games doesn’t mean he’s idiot.

And just because a politician had the sense to google something and throw some relevant phrases into a speech doesn’t mean he does know anything about video games.

Either way I don’t see increased government oversight doing anything except making the situation worse.

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Nathan Aldana

yeah, because you know those government types who knew nothing about meatpacking definitely didnt improve factories at all by creating the FDA

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Peregrine Falcon

Meatpacking plants (not factories) aren’t overseen by the FDA, they’re overseen by the USDA. Nice to know that you don’t allow your opinions to be burdened by inconvenient things like… oh, I don’t know… actually knowing what you’re talking about.

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Bruno Brito

Hey guys! You know the 8 exp boosters you got from that shiny gambling you just did? They’re something! Even if you’re max level!

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Toy Clown

“You mean the one that just cost me 20$ in real money? Oh, hey. You’re right!”

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McGuffn

You don’t get nothing from gambling either. You have the camaraderie of your fellow players or the dealer. The spinning wheels and the flashing lights.

They’re selling experiences!

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Wilhelm Arcturus

This is the ESA laying down cover for politicians to stand up against regulation… politicians who, by pure coincidence, happened to get campaign donations from the ESA.

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Nordavind

I was in shock for a few seconds as I thought this was coming from The European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority.

(European Free Trade Association = EFTA, EFTA Surveillance Authority = ESA)

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Wilhelm Arcturus

I’m sure the fact that the European Space Agency didn’t come to mind says something.

Still, I know how you feel. I read the entertainment press sometimes and find NATO weighing in on things, only to be reminded that the National Association of Theater Owners chose their acronym poorly.

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Sally Bowls

Whereas, IMO, The Culinary Institue of America gets more people to open their mail and take their phone calls.

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Bryan Correll

Ecological Society of America?
European Seed Association?
Ejército Secreto Anticomunista?

And many, many more!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESA_(disambiguation)

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Arktouros

Having read the Hawaii legislation I don’t think I’d really qualify Chris Lee as knowledgeable or even remotely practical. His entire proposal that games submit their open code for regular spot checks and review is positively a fantasy. Absolute fiction of a practical idea. He’s more a representation of someone who’s aware enough of what the issues are, but not aware enough in the kind of harm or potential cost that his solutions will incur.

While, of course, the President of an organization is going to talk positively about their prospects this guy made some pretty legit points. The biggest of which is it’s up to us, as customers, to determine if we want these business models to work and continue. If you don’t play a game in any capacity that has loot boxes those games won’t thrive or succeed. If the only goal of these companies to make money, if you deliver financial failure to them then they will find a different model that works.

However what people also need to accept is that there’s the potential reality that buying loot boxes isn’t as big of a deal to everyone as they might think. Plenty of people may be perfectly fine with the idea of loot boxes and supporting a game/company with them in regardless. Welcome to the shitty part about being part of a society. Not everyone is going to agree and sometimes you’re going to have to put up with shitty things because enough other people like or don’t mind them.

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Sally Bowls

their open code for regular spot checks and review I had totally forgotten that. OK, while he may be a nice guy, I think I am extremely comfortable with putting him in Bree’s “blubbering idiots” category.

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Arktouros

I honestly don’t know what they’re thinking. Assuming there’s 100% compliance you’re talking about hundreds of games to go under review on top of the multiple thousands of mobile games who practically invented the whole lock box thing. Who’s going to review all that? Oh they will hire outside agencies to look at game coding… I’m sure there’ll be no issues with that, at all, LOL…just sheer insanity at it.

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Ittybumpkin

I personally think there needs to be clarity in how they implement their loot box mechanics. I think that portion of code should be available for review upon request within a timely manner. Kind of like how FOIA requests are done. The reason for this is due to things such as the patent that came out last year from Activision that can be used to mentally push a player to buy lootboxes by altering the game around them. Such as putting them in a game with people who are much better and pushing them to buy stuff to keep up or reinforcing purchases by putting them in a situation where they have an advantage due to their purchases. I do not trust these companies at all and they need to be regulated as they are taking advantage of real people and they seem to have little care or regard for anything besides lining their pockets.

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rafael12104

Ah, well…

I must admit my naivety. I was hoping the industry would regulate itself and we could all sing kumbaya while playing Fortnite together. ;)

But alas, the ESA president reminded me of the reality. ESA is a mouthpiece for AAAs. Oh, they put their useless rating stamp on boxes for the sake of those they conned in Washington. So, there is that. And apparently, they revised it just ever so slightly to include a stamp that indicates games might sell stuff in game now. LOL! What a fucking joke.

Regulating loot boxes now, apparently, is a detriment to innovation according to the ESA… Really? Heh. It is rare to hear such utter excrement in a speech by anyone. Even EA hasn’t gone that far.

Mr. ESA President, you want to double down? Let’s double down. Your big mouth just shines a light on things.

And the thing is there are already some EU countries taking action, but what I’m really hoping will happen is the EU as a block takes action. Oh yes, that can and does happen. Lest you forget, that thanks to our current Whitehouse resident, the EU would love a trade reg issue to sting the once mighty dollar.

In the meantime, I’m quite sure the politicians with interest on this side of the pond heard the message. It fuels their efforts. And should those civic-minded noobs who love to blame games for the world’s ills wake from their slumber, the nuke will be right on your ass, Mr. ESA President.

Let’s go, baby!

semugh
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semugh

erm in the EU gaming industry is a very small fish. It’s not even worth to fry lol. And it’s mostly linked to app store and play store. And mobile games are the worst offenders lol.

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rafael12104

Yeah? So EA’s FIFA is small potatoes? That game in the EU carries all the weight necessary.

But, it’s not the size of the fish but the domino effect that I’m looking forward too.

semugh
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semugh

yeah, EA is an american company and damn even a football game needs to be made in the USA…
there won’t be domino effect.

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Brother Maynard

erm in the EU gaming industry is a very small fish. It’s not even worth to fry lol

You really don’t know much about the gaming industry, do you?