FTC Will Investigate Loot Boxes

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by AlphaAtlas, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. AlphaAtlas

    AlphaAtlas [H]ard|Gawd Staff Member

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    Senator Maggie Hassan asked the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate loot boxes yesterday, and the FTC agreed to do it. The Senator claimed that lootboxes will represent a "$50 billion dollar industry by 2020," and brought up a UK study that correlates loot boxes with "young problem gamblers."

    You can watch the Senator's request here.

    The ESA, a body representing American video game developers, clearly isn't happy about this, and gave Polygon the following statement: “Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.”
     
  2. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Some of that pride and accomplishment you get by paying for a random number generation.

    How about you take away the slot machine and just make the enhancing experience part of the damn game? Red Dead 2 has done a great job at it.
     
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  3. Exercate

    Exercate Limp Gawd

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    So ... If they have no value, then why do they cost anything???
     
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  4. Patton187

    Patton187 Gawd

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    The one force more nefarious than EA, the gubmint.
     
  5. 5150Joker

    5150Joker 2[H]4U

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    FCC will demand a bigger cut for uncle Sam and it will be fine.
     
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  6. They are gambling. Period. If there is a "chance" to get something of little worth or great worth it's gambling.
     
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  7. ir0nw0lf

    ir0nw0lf [H]ardness Supreme

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    The optimist in me hopes something happens from this.
    The pessimist in me worries that not a damn thing will happen from this.
     
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  8. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    Contradictory, no?
     
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  9. Agreed. For anyone who has ever played a video game where loot boxes can get you better gear, there is an impact to everyone who plays. That is why they are so popular. It becomes an arms race in some games. In others it becomes a necessity to have the gear needed to meet the minimum parse requirements for encounters.
     
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  10. SSimmons05

    SSimmons05 Limp Gawd

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    I would be soooo happy to get rid of loot boxes.
     
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  11. DeathFromBelow

    DeathFromBelow [H]ardness Supreme

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    Hercules.jpg

    Hercules chasing Avarice from the Temple of the Muses. Italian artists Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi and Ugo da Carpi, ~1520-27 AD.
    I have no problem with gubmint bringing a hammer down on these AAA gambling companies. Preferably right on their CEO's crotches.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
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  12. dougdougdoug

    dougdougdoug n00b

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    I hope they find loot boxes as a form of gambling. It turns many titles into quick cash grabs and completely ruins the playing experience for the overall community when it is not cosmetic enhancements only.

    Player base disappears quickly when the imbalance becomes overtly obvious, and then the game is forced to start releasing new, more powerful, super epic, gangster legendary gear that you can buy, or start farming and capture all the necessary materials sometime by... next year... hopefully.
     
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  13. Azphira

    Azphira [H]ard|Gawd

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    Don't forget the other tactic they like to use, they give you the loot boxes, then sell you the keys to open them.
     
  14. XvMMvX

    XvMMvX [H]ard|Gawd

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    Baseball cards have been around for 100 years.

    Where were they when I was spending my allowance on Magic the Gathering cards?

    This could crush CCGs and kill revenue that supports AAA development costs. Will be interesting to see where you goes.

    I have always felt the sweet spot is cosmetic only. Fortnite makes a killing that way.
     
  15. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    The difference is you can buy individual cards or even trade with others, whereas in many cases the only way to get certain game content is by chance in a lootbox.
     
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  16. BSmith

    BSmith [H]ard|Gawd

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    How about people stop buying games that have loot boxes? Oh wait,..yeah,...I forget we must have our toys no matter what! Dummy me.

    Would you really like to see games get legislated?
     
  17. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    I find it pretty funny how ignorant some people are here. One, you don't want government getting involved in games, second y'all seem to be under the false impression that getting rid of RNG loot boxes will get rid of pay to win games....It won't, games that devs are ok with pay to win will still sell items in game, it just wont be a RNG box, items will just be more expensive or the items you are buying will not have a 100% chance to work, that might use an upgrade system where you have to buy upgrades that have a low chance of working.
     
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  18. Airbrushkid

    Airbrushkid 2[H]4U

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    EA and the others will Lobby. (Pay off the one's that are investigating the Loot Box crap) Big money always seems to win! I never will give them anything for this Loot Crap!
     
  19. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    If they banned lootboxen, then I'm sure this wouldn't be far behind, as I'd consider that as bad or worse, since there's a chance that you will get nothing for your money other than the (failed) chance at something. Pretty much the definition of gambling.
     
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  20. XvMMvX

    XvMMvX [H]ard|Gawd

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    But it is still gambling.

    I can pay $50 for this card or $2.99 and try and get the card. It is the same thing.
     
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  21. singe_101

    singe_101 2[H]4U

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    Monthly fee and RNG lootbosses are legal, right? Like WoW? No extra money to kill the boss but it takes your time.

    I preferred BGs and racking up Honor for the 70 PVP set, it was more fair. Extremely outdated now I'm sure.
     
  22. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    Then where do you draw the line? You are on a slippery slope. Even if you went ban happy, it still does nothing to stop pay to win, as it would just move to more expensive cash items (see Star Citizen and its $2,500 ships), or adding a extra subscription tier that gives you extra items/stats/access etc etc.
     
  23. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    I don't care about those, they arent gambling. What you get is clearly defined in those cases, you get them every time, and it is not addictive like gambling (or else the price would not be an issue). The fact that some people can't afford them or they make the game unfair is a different issue entirely, which should be resolved by you choosing to not play or support the game.
     
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  24. U-238

    U-238 Limp Gawd

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    So they start off by admitting that there's more than one way to "enhance the experience" meaning that, if loot boxes were banned, game publishers have other options for generating extended revenue. Not a great way to set up your argument.


    False. In-game items are routinely traded for real-world currency. This is especially true in games where the items that can be found in loot boxes can also be purchased from an in-game store where a monetary value is assigned to the item by the game company/publisher themselves.



    False. This statement would only be true if players were guaranteed never to receive the same item twice and always receive an item that is useful to a character they play. If I unbox the same hat/cloak/sword/etc three times in a row this alone does not enhance my experience in any way.


    While they may be optional to purchase, loot boxes are commonly known to contain items that make the game easier to play or make enemies/other players easier to defeat. This scenario where a player can pay additional monies to attain better odds or a higher return causes it's own self-repeating loop where players feel forced to open loot boxes in order to have any chance at success. The same can be said of DLCs that provide the same benefits. The only time that this statement is true is when loot boxes contain cosmetic-only items which provide no inherent gameplay advantage.

    A perfect example of why loot boxes should be considered gambling can be seen in one of the games that normalized loot boxes: Valve's Team Fortress 2. Players who most frequently open loot boxes in this game do so for monetary advantage as the items contained within the box, while cosmetic only, have the potential for high real-world return. In this case - spending money on a chance to obtain something that can be sold for more money than was initially spent - the comparisons to gambling are very real. It does not take an extraordinary leap of logic to make the assertion, even without direct scientific evidence (although a study has been provided here), that the use of loot boxes by players can correlate with gambling addiction.

    In essence, any device which exchanges real-world money for a chance of the acquisition of something deemed valuable, real or virtual, while also having a statistically higher chance of acquiring something deemed worthless and without value, thereby little better than nothing, is without question a form of gambling.
     
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  25. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    So the one issue of pay to win, people should just choose not to play or pay for it.....But RNG loot boxes need government regulation? Why don't people just choose not to buy them as well?

    You also understand gambling is not illegal right? It's just that the government, if they can try and define it as gambling, means they get a cut of the income. And if people want to gamble, who are you to say other wise?
     
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  26. Armenius

    Armenius I Drive Myself to the [H]ospital

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    The government wouldn't be getting involved had the ESRB done their damned job. But being run by the industry itself, the ESRB was protecting its own interests. Now since the industry body isn't properly regulating itself, the government has to step in.
    Yes, gambling is not illegal for people aged 18 and over. Meaning the games that contain gambling need to be properly rated. In this case, any game containing loot boxes must be rated AO, but this goes back to my point above.
     
  27. Derangel

    Derangel [H]ard as it Gets

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    CCGs/TCS are an industry that has done a good job regulating itself and playing things "fair". Odds are published, the industry fully supports 3rd parties buying and selling individual cards, the cards themselves are created with the purpose of being traded between buyers. They keep the government out of their business by not being short-sighted idiots, unlike the game industry.
     
  28. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    In fact, it is illegal in many places. If choosing to not gamble is so easy, why do they have counciling for people who can't quit? Why do people sell their family (not literally, but there may have been actual instances) to play poker, or roll slots? The issue isn't that you can't choose not to, it's that the incentive (an advantage and more enjoyable experience) is too great for some to resist. The same can be said for your over-priced content, but at least you actually stand a chance (100% in fact, which is why it is not gambling) to get that. You might have a 1% chance with lootboxes of getting something good (but not quite what you wanted). The chances of getting the best item are astronomically lower, therefore you are more likely to purchase another, and another, and another. The consequences aren't as bad when you are young and don't have as many obligations (a house, family, etc.), but it's not something you should get into a habit of doing, which is why it is illegal for minors (or outright banned) in some areas.

    https://newsok.com/article/5585159/...lion-dollars-for-embezzling-from-okc-business
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
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  29. Trepidati0n

    Trepidati0n [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I do not care about "loot boxes" in a strict sense. Pay something to get something that is completely defined is okay by me. Pay $7 to get player X in some game...fine. Pay $8 to have an advantage over player ...fine. At least then I understand the game and the value/costs.

    What bugs the shit out of me is the RNG based loot boxes. We do not know the true odds of getting something thus it is impossible to determine is actual value. You...like going into a casino and playing the slots. >,<
     
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  30. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris [H]ard as it Gets

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    I equate loot boxes to baseball or MTG cards. I mean, it's not gambling in the sense that you can walk away with nothing, but it does encourage you to keep buying until you get that rare.

    If you outlaw loot boxes then you need to outlaw collectible cards.

    That said, I don't like them in games because game play elements are built around them and I will never buy them.
     
  31. WhoMe

    WhoMe Gawd

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    Well I have this vision of a bunch of stogy old men learning to game for the first time...that'd be amusing. But as to what they'll do about it, well maybe flip a coin to decide if they should be banned.
     
  32. katanaD

    katanaD [H]ard|Gawd

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    street dealers really need to learn this one. imagine.. they give away the crack freely. but then charge high rates for pipes that can only be used once, forcing you to buy more and more pipes....
     
  33. Aireoth

    Aireoth 2[H]4U

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    Aww Yeah, Ajit's gonna get a new mug.
     
  34. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    It has not been ruled to be gambling yet. And if you are going to make a case that wide, what do you do about arcades? Children toys of chance? Hell, just a few years ago "Hatchimals" were huge, which was a random chance of getting a toy that were sold out everywhere and going for WAY over retail, and these are specifically aimed at kids, or any number of other items that are not considered gambling, but are very much so games of chance.

    We are talking about the US, where it is not illegal at the federal level, many states actually run their own gambling operation and I believe only two states that allow almost none. It is as easy as not paying to win. The fact some people get counseling for it because THEY have a problem doesn't mean anything, people also get counseling for any number of normal things in life, from drinking, eating, or any other number of habits, people have given up family for the ability to buy a nicer car, or house, or freaken Ty beanie babies, this is not specific to gambling.
     
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  35. piscian18

    piscian18 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Since Online gambling is illegal and there's an economy around loot boxes I think it's worth evaluating if some or all lootbox devs are breaking US law. I'd prefer they go away. The ingame spam is annoying and other than CSGO I've chosen to ignore any game that comes out with loot crates.
     
  36. Guarana [BAWLS]

    Guarana [BAWLS] [H]ard|Gawd

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    A major difference is ALSO that you're dealing with a physical product. You're buying the physical cards.

    In a Loot Box you're paying for a few bits of ephemeral data that has no guarantee of anything. If Wizards goes and blows up tomorrow, you still have cases of Magic Cards sitting there.
     
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  37. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    Lack of federal regulation means little–there are many things with no federal regulation which are regulated (sometimes thoroughly) in most states...gambling being one of them:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230619/
     
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  38. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    At the federal level it is legal. However states can further restrict, a number of states have passed online gambling, it is a state by state issue.

    I stated the state by state issue in my post you just quoted. You are also getting ahead of yourself as it is not considered gambling yet.

    If you are arguing that loot boxes of digital goods have no value, that would actually be an argument against it being gambling, as it has to be something of value.

    I believe they do have value, but would depend on the game, as some have market places that allow buying the items with actual money, while other games have strict TOS that state items are not to be exchanged for physical goods or money. This could be another work around devs could use it they do end up finding loot boxes to be gambling depending on verbiage they end up using.
     
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  39. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    I'm not getting ahead of myself. It is gambling, it just has not been established in court as gambling. You're being pedantic, or maybe I am...

    I'm not sure what you're getting at with your first sentence, I feel like I understood that already...
     
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  40. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    It's not actually. Not until it is ruled as such. We are talking about legal action and regulation, not what you "feel". So until such time as the government declares it to be gambling, for all legal reasons (the topic of this thread), it is not.
     
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