UK researchers identify link between lootboxes and problem gambling

    
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Kick it down the road.

Are lockboxes just another form of gambling? That depends on which government entity, scientist, lawyer, or doctor you ask. But maybe the question we ought to be asking is not whether they’re legally gambling but whether their effect is sufficiently similar to merit similar regulation – or whether, as the game industry argues, this is just the online equivalent of baseball cards and we should let it wind through the industry unimpeded.

That’s effectively the question being addressed in a new research paper by a group of computer and behavioral scientists in the UK. They surveyed adult games who played one of 10 major games with lockboxes, including Overwatch, PUBG, and League of Legends, to determine the relationship between non-gaming problem gambling and gaming lootbox spending.

“The results of this study suggest an important relationship between problem gambling and the use of loot boxes,” the paper finds. “The more severe that participants’ problem gambling was, the more money they spent on loot boxes.”

Worryingly, while that effect is “of small-to-medium size,” it turns out to be “one of the stronger relationships in the gambling literature” – stronger than depression and drugs and almost as strong as alcoholism.

However, the researchers also note that the causal relationship can’t be determined. “It may be the case that loot boxes cause individuals to become problem gamblers,” they caution. “It may also be the case that pre-existing gambling problems cause individuals to spend more money on loot boxes.”

Even so, the paper argues, if it’s the latter case – if lockboxes themselves are not creating problem gamblers out of thin air – lockboxes are still “providing an opportunity for games companies to exploit serious pre-existing psychological problems amongst their customers for massive monetary gains.”

“However, regardless of the direction of causality, the games industry faces a crisis of conscience. Industry bodies such as the ESRB can no longer claim that there is little evidence of a link between problem gambling and loot box use. We call on individual companies within the games industry to remove loot boxes from their products. When companies include loot boxes in their games, our results suggest that they are either proftting from problem gambling or causing problem gambling. Loot boxes have no place in video gaming culture. We also follow Drummond and Sauer in recommending that ratings agencies incorporate additional parental advisories into games that feature loot boxes. We recommend that games with loot boxes are restricted to players of legal gambling age. Given the severity of the link seen here we also strongly recommend that relevant authorities restrict access to loot boxes as if they were a form of gambling.”

You can read the preprint of the paper yourself over on PsyArXiv.

Source: Loot box spending in video games is linked to problem gambling severity by David Zendle and Paul Cairns on PsyArXiv
Update: The same researchers testified at an Australian government hearing regarding a different government-funded 7000+ gamer study on the same topic.

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kgptzac

Quote from the paper

At the end of the study they were asked these questions again to ensure consistency in their responses (inconsistent responses were screened out), and asked what they thought the purpose of the study was (those that mentioned both loot boxes and gambling were screened out).

Am I supposed to take this seriously? lol

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Fervor Bliss

1545 respondents. 1151 used. of that 17% (201) were problem gamblers.
“Problem gambling is an excessive and involuntary pattern of gambling activity which causes serious problems in an individual’s personal, family, and vocational life.” to quote the report.
The North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help reports that approximately 2.6% of the U.S. population has some type of gambling issue.
This 14% gap seems troubling to me.
Outlawing loot boxes is fine with me, but this report just seems bad.

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Arktouros

The principle point people continue to dance around on this subject, and the one that matters the most to the law, is whether or not the the items that people want regulated as gambling constitute items of value.

If you look at legislation in the only two countries who have done anything on this topic, as other countries have failed to introduce legislation or it stalled out due to a lack of interest such as here in the US, it’s primary focus has been on whether or not the items had value. In the case of the Netherlands, items only had value if they were tradeable. In the case of Belgium, items have value if they’re desirable.

The second ruling is absurd and I’ll show you why. So lets say instead of selling gambling lockboxes, they sell you a key to access a dungeon in game that has a 1 HP chest that you one shot and get random loot. Is that still gambling? Let’s just say yes and ask what if that fight now had mechanics and you had to fight for loot? Is that still gambling? What if instead of a key to a single area you pay for a subscription that gives you daily access to a dungeon you gotta play through that has loot on it at the end with a boss. Is that still gambling?

See the majority of the same chance mechanics that we see in lootbox design are the basis of much of the game play design we see in most of our MMO games. You “farm” dungeons over and over trying at random chances of loot that you find desirable. Most MMO players all have a story of that one time we farmed something for hours to get a super rare drop.

I mean you guys rail against that whole WHO gaming addiction thing all the while setting up their home run argument for them.

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Schmidt.Capela

The principle point people continue to dance around on this subject, and the one that matters the most to the law, is whether or not the the items that people want regulated as gambling constitute items of value.

That is true for the moment, because no law specifically about lootboxes exist, so they are using laws about gambling.

When it comes to gambling, there are two main motivations to regulate it: due to its potencial use in laundering money from criminal activities (which is where the “item of value” part of such laws come from), and due to its addictive nature (which is where the age restrictions and other controls over how gambling is presented and who can take part come).

This doesn’t have to be the case going forward; changing the laws is a slow process, but if the laws were changed to give more importance to the potential addiction then it’s likely they would go after anything that triggers the same addiction mechanisms, regardless of whether a prize is involved. The Netherlands Gambling Authority indicated that they intend to pursue such an approach in changing the law if the publishers don’t self-regulate to make lootboxes less addictive; similarly, the Belgium Gambling Authority said they would lobby to get the law changed should they lose the looming legal battle against EA.

The WHO adding a gaming disorder with nearly the same description and symptoms as the already existing gambling disorder can serve as a push in that direction, BTW, which is why I wholeheartedly support it.

So lets say instead of selling gambling lockboxes, they sell you a key to access a dungeon in game that has a 1 HP chest that you one shot and get random loot. Is that still gambling? Let’s just say yes and ask what if that fight now had mechanics and you had to fight for loot? Is that still gambling?

Yep. That would be a pretty basic attempt to disguise the gambling, something that lawmakers and gambling authorities have had to deal with for centuries. Which is why the definition of gambling requires an element of chance, rather than the result being entirely determined by chance. It’s also why betting on the outcome of an event, like a horse race or some other sporting event, would still be gambling even if you had some degree of control over the result (though that would raise some pretty serious fraud considerations).

What if instead of a key to a single area you pay for a subscription that gives you daily access to a dungeon you gotta play through that has loot on it at the end with a boss. Is that still gambling?

Assuming the subscription is for the whole game, rather than for just the dungeon, I would go with no. One, because the player would still be paying even if he never used the loot dungeon; two, because there would then be no way for the player to pay more in order to get more chances.

This would even be valid for outright lootboxes given on a daily basis with the subscription, or even for free just for logging into the game; it’s why the new SWBF2 model — which gives players lootboxes for logging into the game, but doesn’t sell them, directly or indirectly — was deemed acceptable by the Belgium Gambling Authority.

Oh, BTW, you can add another country to the list; the Finland Lottery Authority has decided that lootboxes amount to illegal lotteries and the Finnish police started an investigation on lootboxes. Their specific grievance seems to be about whether selling the contents of the lootboxes is at all possible regardless of whether the publisher condones with such sales. Ironically, in the Finnish case game the publishers’ insistence that players don’t own anything inside the game prevents them from using the legal exception that allows CCGs like Magic to be freely sold, as that exception requires the content of lootboxes to be something that purchasers unequivocally own and that has a strong demand for purely collecting and displaying purposes.

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Arktouros

Which is why the definition of gambling requires an element of chance, rather than the result being entirely determined by chance.

Assuming the subscription is for the whole game, rather than for just the dungeon, I would go with no.

These two don’t make sense. If gambling requires an element of chance then it shouldn’t matter how much you pad up around the parts that have elements of chance that it’d still be gambling at it’s core. No matter how you slice it, that overly broad definition of gambling means just about every modern RPG game that has randomized loot tables are gambling by definition. At that point it’s just a matter of where you draw the line of what’s considered enough filler content around the randomized (gambling) mechanics of what is and isn’t acceptable.

Most games don’t have goods that can be traded from lockboxes, so if more countries go that route we’ll just see more lockboxes without tradeable goods. This is over all a net negative for the customer because now you can’t even get rid of the things you didn’t want from the chests. Hearing more EU countries are looking to ban things isn’t surprising considering article 13.

Game developers sticking to their guns that the items they’re selling have no real world value is because giving items real world value has immense ramifications. Because it means if I spent $250 on in game goods/services that I now own if they choose to ban me or restrict my access to them (such as an older game shutting down) then I can start to pursue legal action to seek the value of my property that was stolen/removed access to. They get around this currently by saying you own nothing and nothing has any real value so they can prevent you from accessing it at any time.

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Schmidt.Capela

These two don’t make sense.

What you need to look at is what the customer is paying for.

Is the customer paying for the lotbox? Would customers leave if you removed the random prize from the package? Then offering that package that includes the random prizes is just a way to disguise gambling.

Is the customer paying for the content? Would customers still be playing, and paying, if the random prize was removed (as opposed to replaced with a fixed prize)? Then the company is selling the content and the lootbox is just a freebie, an incentive.

BTW, fresh news: a coalition of 15 Gambling Authority bodies, from all over Europe plus the US state of Washington, released a joint declaration announcing they will “address the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling”. Their focus is dual: sites that allow betting using in-game items (skin betting being the most known facet), and in-game gambling-like elements such as lootboxes. If I understood correctly, their plan of action is to nudge publishers towards self-regulation, make parents aware of gambling-like elements in games, join forces with each country’s consumer protection agency to tackle the issue of how gambling and similar activities are available to children and other vulnerable persons, and on the long term lobby for better regulation.

Though Belgium isn’t part of it, the declaration includes an almost direct rebuke of EA and Blizzard for saying they don’t agree with how the Belgium Gambling Authority interpreted that country’s gambling laws.

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Arktouros

What you need to look at is what the customer is paying for.

The customer is paying for all of it. All you’ve done is set the bar where the acceptable amount of filler content around the gambling box of what should and shouldn’t be regulated. From there it’s just a matter of sussing out where that line is and pushing on it a bit. So for example a new “dungeon DLC” with a variety of dungeons you pay to access each time. They are full on dungeons, full encounters, hell you can even invite your friends to them so they too can experience “the content” (lol) with rewards at the end delivered in the same style of every RPG on a dead boss.

See that’s what you need to look at, there’s no real functional way to separate it. People buy game expansions because it gives them more character options and more character power than if they didn’t. No one wants to skip WOW’s expansions and be stuck back at level 60 obviously. Even flat progression games no one wants to skip GW2 expansions and not have access to the powerful new specializations. Oh sure the content is great too, but the character power/progression is fundamental to a RPG and items/cosmetics tend to be the way most companies push that character progression in games today.

The skin gambling/trading thing is done for. That’s the element that went too far and will likely end up reigned in like we’ve seen in majority of countries, Belgium being the outlier of going beyond that. Again, EU passed article 13, I wouldn’t be surprised what they will eventually ban or restrict. But the US is an entirely different beast and I’d be very surprised if anything meaningful happens here. That doesn’t mean discussing or talking about or rattling of sabers like Chris Lee but actually meaningful legislation gets introduced and passed and then enforced. Especially in Washington as I would be surprised if Amazon wants to shut down the gamble box thing just as they’re getting into gaming.

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Schmidt.Capela

See that’s what you need to look at, there’s no real functional way to separate it.

When you try in increasing ways to approach the limit between what is and isn’t gambling you will reach that.

But it’s the same with a lot of things. Take, for example, rape; the difference between that and regular sex is just the consent. But where do you draw the line? Is consent by someone under the effect of judgement impairing drugs — like, say, alcohol — valid? Is there an amount of blood alcohol that invalidates the consent? What if the person was tricked into taking a drug? What about medical prescriptions? Taking another approach, what about the age of consent: if the act happens days, or even hours, before the age of consent, is it a crime?

The age of consent — and other situations where people are legally prevented from doing certain things, like drinking or gambling, before a certain age — is a clear example of this issue at work. A person doesn’t magically becomes able to understand the implications of their acts when the clock strikes midnight; the ideal way to solve it would be to have an in-depth psychological evaluation of each person to determine if they are ready for the rights and duties that come with adulthood. That is impractical, though, so lawmakers around the world went for a simpler blanket solution by tying it to the physical age and choosing an age at which most people (should) have the required maturity.

Publishers have been doing something that triggers the same issues with the boundaries of the legal and illegal: converging games and gambling by using tactics developed to make gambling more enticing and profitable (and that are often banned from actual gambling for exact that reason) in order to increase their profits. This, in turn, requires gambling authorities — and, potentially, judges and legislators — to take a look and draw a few lines around what should or shouldn’t be regulated. In the process some activities that ideally shouldn’t be regulated will end regulated nevertheless, out of expediency and a need for legal certainty, but that is unavoidable when publishers are willing to blur the lines in the name of greed.

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Frank White

Personally, I don’t see any difference between being sold a lockbox with a random item and being sold a 1 HP chest that you’d one-shot for a random item. Which I guess is your point, but I’m not sure I draw the same conclusion from that as you do. While you can argue that neither should be classified as gambling, it makes perfect sense to me that if the former were deemed gambling then so is the latter. In other words, the question isn’t whether one or the other is gambling, but whether they both are, because there’s no difference between the two. And if people had to fight for loot? It’s not gambling if they don’t have to pay an extra fee for it, not in my opinion. It also wouldn’t be gambling, in my opinion, if everyone were paying a subscription that gave them daily access to a dungeon you have to play through to get loot, because everyone would be paying a subscription and have equal access to said loot. But if you’re talking about people having an option to pay for an extra “Loot subscription,” above the cost of the base game and/or any subscription that everyone else would have to pay just to play the game, then I’d say it would all depend on the loot being given away and how random it was and your chances of winning anything meaningful.

I’m not going to pretend I have a great, concise definition of everything that constitutes gambling in games, but for me it’s kind of like that old “I know it when I see it” definition of pornography that Potter Stewart used back in the 60’s. I will say that generally anything that a lot of people will find highly desirable, for whatever reasons, that can be bought for real money, but that you have only a random and maybe very small chance of actually getting for your money – there’s probably a good argument for it being gambling. And if it’s not actually gambling, it’s certainly unethical when game developers allow you to get the same items via playing the game but then they very purposefully introduce game mechanics that make it such a slog to get said items that players who can usually will choose to just pay instead. It’s coercive, and at the very least it’s exploitative. Somebody has to do something to reign them in to some extent, and unfortunately just telling people to vote with their wallets to protest such tactics only works to a certain extent. A lot of the people buying these games are kids, or not much older than kids, and apparently some of them need saving from themselves. ;)

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Arktouros

I don’t argue that either scenario shouldn’t be classified as gambling but rather the inconsistency in which people apply their views. Lockboxes are gambling beacuse you pay money and get random results. However that’s the fundamental basis of just about every major RPG out there these days with randomized loot tables.

If I go pay for an Expansion of game content in a game like ESO I’m paying for new game elements most of which have randomized rewards associated either on the monsters I kill or the rewards that I receive. I’m paying an upfront fee for an all access pass to chance based mechanics. It’s like a slot machine I pay $60 up front and I can have as many pulls on the lever as I am willing to sit there and pull on it.

The thing is people don’t need saving from themselves. Kids and people just beyond kids rarely have the kind of money to throw away hundreds or thousands of dollars away on games. Those just aren’t the market audience game designers are going after. They want the people who are older and have expendable income and don’t mind paying a premium for a premium product. You see this in every entertainment industry, but as usual those who are unwilling or unable to pay the extra complain about the advantages those who can pay extra get.

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Serrenity

as usual those who are unwilling or unable to pay the extra complain about the advantages those who can pay extra get.

/eye-roll you are being intentionally daft; no one cares that you can spend more to get more in a game. Micro-transactions people bitch about, but don’t think are a borderline illegal action in games. The problem lies in you spend more to get a chance at something, not the thing itself- which I know you realize but is inconvenient to your argument.

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Serrenity

I know I’ve said this before … ad nasuem but declaring digital items to have value is not an ‘if’ statement (heh), but a when statement. Eventually some judge, probably in the 9th circuit if we are being honest, will decide that digital items in games *do* have value (but it’s almost guaranteed to NOT be in relation to gamblingboxes, but probably something tangential).

The precedent has already been set, but no one has invoked it yet–you can buy/sell digital art (which only exists in digital form), you can buy/see digital music which only exists in digital form, and digital movies. All three of those things are already considered to have value under the law, and the leap between “that thing I bought off of deviantArt” and “that thing I spent $34,000 to get a $10 skin” isn’t that big.

You keep on talking about this as if there’s a choice or a different path. The path is already decided – we have the precedent for the digital goods having value, we are just waiting for the law to catch up with the realities of our world. It will happen, it’s just a question of when.

Additionally, you make the argument about loot tables being gambling, but that’s flawed argument. At that point, you are buying the game for the experience of playing the game– and the initial box price can go one of two ways when looking at this.
1) It doesn’t qualify as consideration because the game is ultimately more than just loot table (legally defined, not what people might play it for), and thus it would hard or impossible to say that you are buying the game ONLY for a chance to get a particular piece of loot.
2) Developers could say that the box price includes access to every item in the game, meaning effectively there would be no consideration on something wagered because the box price included all the loot as it stands …

Say nothing of the multitudes of board games (not tcg) that include chance that no one even remotely bats an eye at maybe being gambling. I think you are catastrophizing the situation for the shock value.

Finally, most gambling laws make a special distinction between acts of Skill and act of Chance. The ‘loot’ opportunity can easily to be said to an act of skill (you have to defeat the boss to get the loot, which requires more skill than chance) and it’s no longer gambling because the outcome is determined less on chance and more on skill (again from a legal statement, before you come back with “it doesn’t take skill to kill X raid boss!”)

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Witches

It won’t solve anything, they’ll just find some other exploitative method because they want to exploit, not entertain.

The people leading this trend have no interest in gaming or anything besides making money, if they have to kill an industry to make money they’ll do it, it’s not like they haven’t done it before.

They will try to make more money through any means except spending more to provide a better product.

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Weilan

When I see lockboxes in games, it’s a big turnoff for me. Sometimes to the point where I won’t even touch the game.

This is a form of subtle gambling and gambling is boring for me. I don’t understand how people fall for this trick.

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failed_apathy

If you’ve ever engaged in any gameplay where you put off real-life responsibilities (sleep or whatnot) to engage in one more game cycle or act, then you completely understand how people fall for this “trick”.

The underlying psychology behind gambling isn’t that different from the way most game systems are designed to keep the player engaged; it’s just that they cost different (or arguably the same thing): your time vs. your money. And of course, people can get addicted to games just as readily as they can to the more overt money-based gambling.

Most MMOs tend to contain more grind-heavy or more tedious RNG-based aspects than single-player games, and that’s probably to keep players engaged, and therefore spend more money.

In both cases, players are exploited as a resource.

Consider how you feel when your net connection goes down for more than a few hours and can’t play your favorite games even if it’s to do nothing other than to do your dailies.

How many folks here could willingly give up video games for a whole week for no other reason than just because? Despite most of us believing that we have free will and agency in this matter, I would bet most gamers would find this very uncomfortable unless they had more pressing real-life matters.

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Amorey

I am not a fan of lootboxes, and I was very disappointed when they were introduced in LOTRO. To me it felt like a huge shift in the game direction that so far it is proving to be very controversial. I feel much of the content in Mordor and after that has been deliberately made harder so that eventually players would want to open those boxes to skip a bit of the grind or get a better piece of gear to help them progress. Not for me sorry.

I hope the game industry will understand that introducing boxes in their games will in the long run create a generation of gamers that will completely addicted to them. It is easy to implement and bring in easy money whilst more interesting game content gets pushed aside.

Gaming, loothboxes and game addiction in very young people are very much in the news here in the UK. Almost every week I read about desperate parents left with huge bills and seriously addicted kids. Eventually the lawmakers will have to intervene which is not ideal, it would be much better is the game companies themselves were to self-regulate….but I doubt they will, it is all about making as much money as possible and fast.

I often feel the next generation of gamers will lose out on what we had and it is sad. Once upon a time games were fun, interesting and challenging . These days speed is at the essence, no time to read a story, no time to explore, run faster, jump higher, slide, shoot, *insert credit card number* open lootbox …” Neat! Shines” *equip new gear* ….repeat. Weeeeee!

Sorry I probably sound like that old lady across the road waving her walking stick and mumbling ” Back in my days…” :) I know progress is important and I know gaming needs to change, I just wish it was not at the expenses of people that can easily fall into a circle of addiction that ultimately will turn a dream of a game into a nightmare.

Ok /rant over, carry on

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Roger Melly

I walked away from the game for the first time since beta because of the difficulty of Mordor . Its put me off playing it for the time being I probably will return when the next expansion pack is released and I can level up doing skirmishes then attempt Mordor again . I kind of felt my journey was over anyway because I had seen the ring destroyed .

I like a challenge and hate overly easy mmos but when you can’t complete a quest at your own level because of the difficulty of the mobs it’s time to walk away .

I think you may be right it has been made like that with lockboxes in mind

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Sally Bowls

Unfortunately, I continue to feel that people attacking game companies over lootboxes will ultimately prove even more successful with attacking game companies over gaming addiction.

The latest silliness I read was

https://games.slashdot.org/story/18/09/16/055212/addiction-to-fortnite-cited-in-over-200-divorce-petitions

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Arktouros

Oh absolutely.

I mean you look at the basis of most of the MMO game models out there and what are we doing? Almost everything we do is chance based. It’s a chance you’ll get that rare drop from a dungeon boss. It’s a chance you’ll get that rare crafting material. It’s a chance you’ll get the quest item to drop off those monsters.

If your principle argument is that loot boxes are gambling, gambling is addictive, people need to be protected from addictive things then all they’re doing is 100% lining up the eventual argument of why people need to be protected from harmful, addictive video games.

Involving the government in any of this stuff is a huge mistake, but people are very short sighted. They see lockboxes as a problem and are willing to do or trade anything to make them go away regardless of what consequences may be down the line.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Yup. We call in RNG. But it’s just a computerized roll of the dice. And us folks have been gambling with dice since the first bone was carved.

From Monopoly to D&D, it’s a roll of the dice.

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Frank White

Guys, while I respect your opinions, and there is some truth in them, can we stop pretending that it’s all just still business as usual, that nothing has really changed? Can we agree that there’s a question of degree here? Can we agree that there’s a difference between paying $15 a month to play a game in which random things happen and sometimes you get good loot and sometimes you don’t, and a game full of cash shop items offering up randomized goodies that you can sometimes only get by paying extra for? Or games that allow you to get the same items by play but very intentionally introduce game mechanics to make it such a time-consuming pain in the ass that many people will throw their hands up in despair and pay instead? I mean, we do have hard evidence of this, in writing, from game developers and publishers, so we know for a fact that they’re demonstrably making their games worse in the the interest of exploiting players for more money. Today’s typical MMO is NOT essentially the same as the MMO you played 10 or 20 years ago. Same for any other game genre.

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Frank White

Not sure I see that as evidence of people attacking gaming companies, unless some of them are suing the game companies, trying to hold them liable for their divorces? But from what I read, the people being held to account are the gaming addicts who care more for their games than their spouses, not the developers or publishers. Although I suppose that’s bound to happen one day, people being people: sooner or later someone will sue a dev or publisher on the grounds that they’re responsible for their addition and the breakup of their marriage and losing their job, and …. Hell, it’s probably already happened somewhere.

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Sally Bowls

Re attacking:
I was just pointing out that all of the outcry is for restrictions on how/what the game devs can sell. This will harm the game dev companies; I don’t think attacking is an incorrect verb to be used for this. Ofc, for most, harming the game company is not the main goal, but it is just a consequence of the change they want. They feel, many passionately, that the benefits are worth that cost.

And there are certainly many reasonable arguments against lockboxes, especially say lockboxes with opaque probabilities sold to minors. But I don’t see any reasonable argument that forcing them to change, as is repeatedly advocated here, will not harm the game companies in the short term.

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Michael18

… the games industry faces a crisis of conscience. … We call on individual companies within the games industry to remove loot boxes from their products. … Loot boxes have no place in video gaming culture.

Doesn’t sound like an unprejudiced scientific publication.

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Arktouros

Scientific publication?

It’s an actual internet/online survey that they then basically just made their biased argument around the results. They even said in the paper no actual study has ever occurred lol…

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I’ve been surprised by the reaction from LOTRO players on the decision to change lootboxes in U23. They are removing everything but fluff from the boxes and making the keys only purchasable from the store. I thought the removal of ash and other gear items would be welcomed. But, no. Some people are genuinely annoyed that they will have to play to acquire a currency to buy gear rather than just buy keys and gamble for it from lootboxes.

This is how ingrained using lootboxes has become in LOTRO. The attitude of many is that this is a move solely motivated by greed, because now keys won’t be rewarded or dropped, but only bought. Others feel their enjoyment of the game will be severely dinged, because it will be more difficult to get currency. They could simply buy boxes (from the AH) and then buy keys and eventually get what they wanted.

Do they have a gambling problem? Or were the currency-dropping loot boxes just easier and more convenient?