MMO Business Roundup: FIFA lockboxes, anti-swatting policy, Fortnite on SNL, Free Guy, UO postmortem

    
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Whenever our newsroom gets overloaded with weird industry-related articles that nobody feels like writing, another edition of the MMO Business Roundup gets its wings!

FIFA lockboxes

Remember how Belgium was investigating EA’s apparent refusal to cooperate with its gambling laws in regard to the FIFA franchise? It looks as if EA blinked first. In September, it announced that it will “begin displaying pack probabilities” – in effect, copying the “transparent lockbox” trend so people know what they’re getting. (via Gamasutra)

Anti-swatting

One of the most heart-breaking online gaming stories we’ve covered this year was about the Kansas man who was shot and killed by police after an e-thug sent police to his home with a false claim in an attempt to terrorize a totally different person. The murder amplified existing calls for police across the country to be smarter about swatting attempts, and now, Seattle PD has implemented a system that essentially allows potential victims to register with a “swatting concerns” flag so that police responding to claims at that address go in understanding that the situation may not be what it appears. It won’t, however, reduce the level of firepower and caution police bring to bear when responding to these calls.

Fortnite on SNL

If your online game is the subject of a sketch on SNL, does that make you mainstream? Probably not, as this one isn’t so much about fork knife itself but about a clueless “old” trying to play it. (To be fair, this is how I feel playing on a controller instead of PC too.)

Free Guy

If you ever wanted to know how NPCs in MMOs feel about their gameworld sunsetting, well, it’s apparently even worse than we feel. Such is the topic of Free Guy, an upcoming Ryan Reynolds film. I can’t believe I just typed that. “Written by Matt Lieberman, the story centers on a background character who realizes he’s living in a video game,” Hollywood Reporter explains. “With the help of an avatar, he tries to prevent the makers of the game from shutting down his world.” (via Polygon)

Ultima Online postmortem

Finally, if you missed GDC this year, you can get caught up on one of the more interesting MMORPG bits now, as the Ultima Online Classic Game Postmortem panel, starring Raph Koster, Starr Long, Richard Garriott, and Rich Vogel, has been posted online.

We welcome business tips as well as regular MMORPG tips – send ’em our way!

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IronSalamander8 .

So I watched the SNL skit. I did like the actors dressed up as the ingame characters but Mr. McTavish is 3 years younger than I, based on his username and he shouldn’t be that bloody clueless! :P

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Peregrine Falcon

If prosecutors and jurors quit signing off on cops who shoot unarmed people who have their hands up, Swatting wouldn’t be such an issue in the first place.

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Robert Mann

The swatting thing… is a somewhat odd idea. After all, the event it is in response to wouldn’t have had the person who was killed on the list of people who could get this extra ‘caution’.

Instead, a little common sense would be appreciated. A home doused in gasoline will smell like gasoline, for example. To cite part of that event, and to note just how easy it was to see holes there. Not to mention that somebody answering the door is a pretty big clue that things might not be as were reported. Investigate, rather than shoot, would have been the appropriate response.

I give that initiative an F out of the box. It is a poorly thought out plan. Paying attention to the problem around swatting is good, but the onus is finding a way to take the appropriate caution will ALL cases, and judging them based on the evidence at hand. Where I gladly defend law enforcement from some rather ridiculous outrage, there are also times where they deserve nothing but scorn, and this inane idea qualifies.

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Arktouros

Not sure how I see EA blinking on the topic of lockboxes in regards to Belgium as even disclosing the odds is still illegal per their laws. Per their laws the ability to pay any amount of money for any kind of randomized result is illegal.

EA is most likely choosing to disclose the odds as a olive branch to quiet anti-lockbox outrage. It follows other countries who have required the same and could be a signal of them trying to move into those countries. Functionally it has virtually zero negative impact on the business. That’s because people, in general, aren’t gambling addicts (not that knowing the odds has any impact on gambling either per a study Bree linked) but rather simply buying into a shitty system. Whether you know there’s a 1% chance of getting what you want doesn’t stop you from wanting it and if you have the ability to throw money at your problem until you get it people are going to still do that.

What I’m really curious about is stacked currency systems like ESO. Are ESO lock boxes gambling if you can sell the items you get for a second currency and then buy the item you want? Isn’t that more using RL$ to buy currency to buy random items to sell for currency? Talk about next level business tactics…

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Armsbend

That skit was not funny.

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Siphaed

Relating too much to Mr. McTavish?

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rafael12104

Oh, yes. EA posting the odds. Another step in the right direction. And I think other lockbox purveyors will start to do the same. It is already a requirement in China.

And the best part? The old slippery slope, but in this case working in the consumer’s favor. Because once the odds become known, it will definitely bring it right back to the pertinent conversation with regard to predatory practices.

So much for the “it won’t affect EA” mantra.

As for Fortnite being mainstream? Wake up, folks. It is mainstream already. A few weeks ago in a lead up to America’s sporting pastime, American Football, there was an entire segment on Fortnite and NFL players that partake in the “craziness”. Ninja was featured in ESPN magazine. CNN and other news networks have covered it and tied themselves up in knots trying to explain it.

BUT, the biggest sign it is mainstream? My niece, all of 12 years old, who only knows about the games that I play and from a distance, (her mother’s orders… something about corrupting the youth of America) asked me point blank in front of her little friends why I didn’t play more Fortnite. And her little friends began to tell me about their adventures in the game.

My friends, the game is a phenomenon. And it reaches much further than our elite MMO gaze dares to see.

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Schmidt.Capela

Aren’t the disclosed odds those that show you have less than an 1% chance of getting a player really worth it? Meaning it would require opening over a thousand lootboxes to assemble a really good team?

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rafael12104

Yup. OR at least that is what they would show. But they may try and obfuscate things. We will see.

But I think this will allow parents and others to see how crazy the spending is by teens and preteens in building said team.

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Sally Bowls

But I think this will allow parents and others to see how crazy the spending is by teens and preteens in building said team.

Warning: this is a grumpy old person comment hiding in the veneer of a gaming discussion.

Parents already let kids spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on Fortnite skins that are purely cosmetic. This affects gameplay; plus, for most parents, eFIFA derived from RL FIFA would seem more comprehensible than “kill 99 people games.” (Although perhaps a “kill 99 coworkers game” could have some appeal to adults.)

tl;dr; Just because you didn’t spend over $100 on one game in the last one or even three months, does not mean that teens and even pre-teens have that budget constraint.

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Arktouros

Honestly I don’t see most parents looking that far. I see the scenario where most parents get asked for “$X for the Y game” and that’s the end of it. If they don’t have the $X the answer is going to be no regardless of what’s being purchased.

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Mewmew

I love video games. I love movies. I love Ryan Reynolds. And yet Free Guy sounds like a horrible idea.

That the Producer of Night at the Museum is attached doesn’t really raise my confidence level much.

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Armsman

It’ll probably be as successful in the same vein as if Ryan Reynolds were to say, play Green Lantern in DCUO. ;)

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Schmidt.Capela

The original idea helps, but what truly matters is how well the idea is implemented. Excellent premisses with shoddy execution result in a bad movie, whereas tired old ideas with great execution can become great movies.