MMO Business Roundup: Video game gambling, toxicity, post-lawsuit reconciliation, and successful UX design

    
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YOUR MONEY IS NOW OUR MONEY, AND WE WILL USE IT TO BUY DRUGS

Welcome back to another mish-mash roundup of MMO-business-related happenings that just don’t fit in anywhere else. To wit:

On game gambling: Remember the bizarrely bad optics of Rockstar putting a glitzy casino in GTAO in the middle of a global crackdown on actual video game gambling? Turns out it’s more than bad optics: There’s a huge list of countries whose residents can’t even play pretend casino in the game, including China, Argentina, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and UAE, where gambling even in games is more or less illegal. As Gamasutra points out, players can still play the game; they’ll just find features “unavailable” when they try to gamble in the gameworld.

On toxicity: The Anti-Defamation League conducted a survey of gamers to determine the level of toxicity experienced in gaming. Nearly three-quarters said they’d been harassed, over half said they’d been “targeted based on their race, religion, ability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnicity,” and almost a third claimed to have been doxxed in an online game. A quarter of players say they avoid specific games because of rampant harassment too. Unsurprisingly, the games indentified as being the most harassment-stuffed are online competitive titles like League of Legends, Overwatch, and PUBG. The civil rights group said “it’s imperative for industry leaders and policymakers to take action to prevent this poisonous ecosystem from overflowing and causing additional harm.”

On reconciliation: Remember back when PUBG Corp. lodged a plagiarism lawsuit against Epic Games right around the time Fortnite was taking off and eating away at PUBG’s slice of the battle royale pie? The suit was dropped half a year later, and now PUBG’s told PCGN that it’s not carrying a grudge. “People have this idea that there’s some animosity or something with Epic, but they’re one of our best partners, we talk to them all the time,” the studio director says, arguing that the “PUBG formula is unique, [that] there really is nothing else out there like it.”

On UX success: User experience expert Celia Hodent has published a detailed piece on why exactly Fortnite has been such an explosive success – from the perspective of psychology. She ought to know: She was the Director of User Experience at Epic Games from 2013 until late 2017, meaning she is a large part of what drove Fortnite to success. (Random: I took the awareness test Hodent links and immediately saw the thing, but I bet I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t basically trained for years to watch things other than the ball at basketball games.)

Got more industry tidbits we should cover? Drop us a note!

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rafael12104

I don’t understand why the GTA Online Casino is a big deal to some.

It seems like a lot of glitz to hide very little innovation.

Meh, I’ll pass. I’d rather save my money and go to Vegas irl.

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Hikari Kenzaki

So… here’s the thing. The GTA Online casino is barely gambling. With the economy as it is, it’s barely a drop in the bucket.

You get a total of 6000 chips for the tutorial and 1000 chips everyday for logging in.
1 chip = 1 In-Game $.
You can only buy 50k chips per day.

If you buy the worst possible shark card ($2.99) you get twice that much in $100,000 in game cash.

A $20 Shark card makes that $50k about 80 cents. The most you really stand a chance to ‘lose’ is $20-25 constantly playing the game for 30 days straight. At which point, I don’t think you’ve lost anything. You’ve paid $25 for 30 days of entertainment.

And you win a lot.

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Schmidt.Capela

You can’t actually use in-game cash obtained from shark cards in the casino; while the game adds it all together when displaying how much you have, it keeps your balance separate and refuses to allow you to purchase chips using the shark card dollars.

The issue isn’t whether the casino is actually real gambling, though, but that it intentionally emulates real gambling, and in so doing can get the players used to the idea of gambling. In many countries that either results in the game getting roughly the same rating a pornographic game would get or else isn’t allowed at all.

Incidentally, it doesn’t just affect this game. In Pokémon games, for example, there used to exist playable slot machines; those started do disappear in 2008 in the South Korea versions, in 2009 in the European versions, and finally in 2010 for the rest of the world.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Well, I sure am glad no one took away my playing cards when I was a kid because it could have encouraged me to gamble.

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Schmidt.Capela

… Now I wonder if the wager rule was removed from Magic due to it getting the game in hot water with gambling regulators.

For those not aware, over a decade ago Magic had a rule where, before the game started, the two players would each pick a random card from their deck; whoever won the game would get both cards. I’m not sure when it was changed, but it existed during the short period when I was playing (back in Unlimited) and doesn’t exist anymore.

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Arktouros

There’s no reasonable steps you can take to prevent toxicity that aren’t already being done. Anyone who thinks otherwise just doesn’t fully understand the problems involved.

What you can do is police it after it happens, and studios actually do a pretty good job at that already for the most part.

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Tiberious Worgrim

I checked out the ADL study info you linked and in a way was surprised and in a way not. When your a person who has maybe had some stuff happen online that is psychologically or emotionally harmful it can feel like you are very alone and isolated. Maybe there’s a mentality that it’s just a game and it doesn’t matter what you do or say to others, or it’s just part of the game for people to troll or be toxic and you should just put up with it or quit? I found this part of the article kind of sums it up pretty well “Online hate causes real harm. Every time someone in an online multiplayer game physically threatens or harasses another player repeatedly because of who they are or what they believe, that experience doesn’t just end for that individual when the game is over”. The thing that really excited me most about mmo’s when I played my first one was the connections and friendships (although few) I made with people, and yes even the rivalries (alot), sometimes those even most when it was in the context of a non personal video game, but so many times things for me, and what I have seen happen to others, things have gone way to far to even be considered acceptable behavior, game or not. I have no idea what can actually be done about it, you can’t control people even if they are completely wrong. But it seems to me from what I read in your post and in the ADL study that it’s not the majority that are harassing or abusive, its the majority who are victims of toxic behavior, in many different forms, and a wide range of people. There are times I seriously question what is wrong with humanity, that people can behave in such a way or treat others in a way that is clearly intended to be deliberately hurtful or to just mess up something that a person may find enjoyment in for the fun of it, and I don’t understand the mentality that drives some people to treat others the way they do. Maybe it’s a product of a competitive environment and immaturity? Or simply a lack of respect? But whatever it is gaming is one of the things I enjoy most and the good far outweighs the bad and really most of the toxic chat/behavior I see is clearly people who are severely underdeveloped as human beings, or maybe just young and need to learn a few lessons about, maybe empathy. And i don’t mean this post to come off as whiny, I actually enjoy having someone come at me in the context of a video game, whether they kick my ass or not, it’s when things go to a level of being a personal attack that I find unacceptable, and it is.

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GiantsBane

Yea, I grew a thick skin from online gaming at a pretty early age in games like counterstrike pre steam, and hell, I never really took issue with trash talk in competitive gaming or people raging online. But we’ve come into an era where things like doxxing people or hell, even swatting have become far too common, and in the case of swatting even cause a death or two all because some asshole online got mad at the person on the other end?

That’s completely unacceptable behavior, but I’m also leery of saying its time for any kind of additional government regulation being imposed on video games (this goes double for the whole nonsense gambling in video games argument and talks about legislating lockboxes, the entire debate in support of using the government to “crack down” on a game mechanic people don’t like, but are unwilling to vote out of office with their wallets is completely absurd. But I digress), because, at least in the US, free speech is a pretty broad brush that’s necessary for our society to function. Things like calls for violence or physical threats of violence aren’t covered however, and should always be reported if you’re feeling so inclined. But I disagree with policing what people are dubbing basically “mental” trauma, due to hearing things they dislike, because it’s completely impossible for anyone to reasonably police without creating a super censorious, authoritarian overwatch apparatus to govern the completely arbitrary category of “what offends each person”, which can be literally anything.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Never underestimate the power of a good UX designer. Making gamers THINK your game LOOKS good is better than actually being good.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

take two rockstar’s move on this feels like a tone deaf take on the classic rockstar controversy moves. problem is afaik the people behind rockstar’s historically prescient bold and pertinent bold provocations in the past are no longer with the company, and this comes off less bold and more idk, to repeat myself just simply tone deaf and somewhat less than well thought out.

alot of the folks playing the game that were really invested into the idea of the casino opening someday largely haven’t played the game in years as it is, and they’re often so invested in not liking the game that coming back to it for this dlc in the context of the overall current ongoing events involving in game gambling stuff is…

rockstar has always been ballsy, but this feels more like demanding consumers and regulators alike flagellate you in public.