We’re 22 days into 2021 and we haven’t had a gaming lootbox mess yet, but that ends today.
As MMO Fallout first reported, the Cyprus Advertising Regulation Organization is apparently cracking down on Wargaming’s World of Warships, which over the holidays ran a lootbox event whereby players could pay to spin a wheel to grab a random ship. The problem is that Wargaming appears to have misrepresented the odds of winning specific ships as it actually rolls twice: once from a list of four common ships, and then from the big list of 103 only if the player didn’t already own the first one, meaning that a new player’s chance of winning one of the 103 was actually zero.
When players complained, Wargaming offered refunds but only in concert with an obviously undesirable account rollback, and it attempted to justify the verbiage of the lootbox and argued that there “was no misleading information” in the campaign. Consequently, CARO found against the company:
“[T]he jury believes that the pre-condition of ownership of one of four specific ships before the gamer may potentially benefit from the opportunity to receive one of 107 premium ships, is in a different league to the randomised workings of the algorithm. Even though all players will first receive a container with one of four ships (provided, there is a ship in the container at all), the players who already own 1 of the 4 ships will get a substitute with one of the 103 ships, whereas the players who do not own 1 of the 4 ships are restricted to those 4. In that sense, it is not correct to claim that ‘The algorithm works impartially and in the same manner for any player.’ […] The Jury also disagrees with the opinion expressed in the discussion that this knowledge would not affect the economic behaviour of the players. In the opinion of the jury, there is a distinct possibility that it would. For example, knowing the pre-condition (of owning one of the 4 ships) might make a player NOT buy a gift container (since at that stage they are trying to win 1 of 4 specific ships and not 1 of 107). […] Wargaming, as indeed any advertiser, has every right to make personalised and tailored offers to segments of their customer base. However, the terms of the offer as communicated to the gamers, should depict that reality. […] Given the above, the Jury find that the Santa gifts campaign as is, is in breach of articles 3b and 5a of the Cyprus Advertising Code and needs to be amended. It should be amended within 5 working days from the dispatch of this decision. Please note that, for the purpose of assessing the deadline, count begins the working day following the dispatch of this decision.”
But as MMO Fallout notes, the ruling feels pretty pointless since the decision carries no penalties other than to fix a promotion that is long since over. On the other hand, it’s one more example of a regulatory board making an attempt to hold companies accountable – and demonstrate to consumers that they were right to raise the stink in the first place.
That isn’t the only frustrating thing that happened with World of Warships this week, even: Just yesterday, you probably saw a bunch of websites cover the game’s Lunar New Year event. That’s because the press release issued to the media focused on that, but as MOP’s WoWS expert Ben noted, the important part of the patch is actually the captain rework that has the community up in arms.