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potential legislation related to lootboxes and microtransactions

Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
Foviel
Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
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Posted On: 12/09/2017 at 10:21 AM

 

couldn't decide where to put this...

https://kotaku.com/hawaii-wants-to-fight-the-predatory-behavior-of-loot-1820664617

 

"These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all."

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Ban Saighdiuir de na Capall
Salithrin
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Replied On: 12/09/2017 at 03:24 PM PST
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Well about time -_-

 

when this sort of stuff got introduced people at first were like "WTF IS THIS" but after time everyone just "got used to it". I'd like to see early access stuff lumped into this but I've got a big bee in my bonett about this type of stuff so I'll shut up

 

All I'm gonna say... 90's was the golden age of gaming when games were made to be played and not to make money...

 

Also... greed is taking over humanity....

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Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
Foviel
Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
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Replied On: 12/10/2017 at 11:56 AM PST

 

aye, i also as you say have "got a big bee in my bonnet about this type of stuff" but... i will say more... 

in all honesty, i too miss the days of just subscription MMO's like EQ and DAoC, you were focused on having fun playing and not spending additional cash on other things like random chance loot from the cash shop. /points at ESO, GW2, FFXIV, SWTOR, TERA... and many others.  F2P, while it sounds cool to anyone who has to worry about how can i pay for this, eg: kids, is anything but free. 
 
the company HAS to make money to pay for their investment.  i in no way fault them for that. which means that they have to find other ways to do it. IE: the Cash Shop.  at first this was just items like:
  • expand inventory
  • expand bank
  • cool pet x
  • cool ride y
  • cool appearance z (that in some games totally break any semblance of sticking to fantasy environment... /glances at beach trunks, string bikini and car mounts)
but, eventually this leads them down the path to greed, and IMO EA already had an issue with that. but, to be fair, to me this is one of the issues with F2P games in general and not just EA.
 
in almost all of the MMO that i play there is some aspect of spend in game cash units... which i have suspected is there for two reasons, real world to game world exchange rate, and disassociation of real world cash value.  the first to me makes sense, i think this is a nice way to in effect only have to set say 1$ = 500 IGU (in game units), 1.5$(canadian) = 500 IGU, 1.75€ = 500, etc...  the 2nd... has a potential to be pretty evil, deliberately trying to loose the association of what you are doing is related to to something in the real world.  for example:
 
from https://account.elderscrollsonline.com/store
 
the base rate is 799 cents = ~8$ = 700 IGU so a little over 1.14 = 1 
 
base rate for crown crates 1 box = 400 IGU, bulk options of 4 = 1500, 15 = 5000
 
so 1 box is about 4.56$... if i use the base exchange i think 15 boxes is around 53$... i could "save" money if i got the 5500 = 39.99$ bulk IGU purchase.
 
so basically your spending about what you would spend for a game, 60$ seems to be the current going rate for AAA, for... 15 random chances that you might get something... uh... cool?  but, has the purchaser actually made that association? and then there is the well i have only done this 15 times... that is not a lot.
 
giving out free ones, once in a while, to get you into it. hum... that sounds like drug dealing.
 
side note: here is the most i could find about what you might get from them (current boxes being given out):
https://www.elderscrollsonline.com/en-us/news/post/26249
 
limited time purchases, example: an orc house currently on ESO. encouraging impulsive spending on a house:
13000 unfurnished i think that is approximately 150$
16250 furnished for 185$?
 
in part, the evil aspect of this is disassociation... how much have i really spent and did i really get ANYTHING that was worth that? another being you can only get it for a limited time... all the types of things that IMO, the reps from HI i think are spot on: gambling. also, that in the real world, for most states that is something you need to be of drinking age to do.  
 
not only that... they have the right to basically take this all away from you in the future and leave you with nothing. ie: shutdown the servers, or ban you. in SWTOR (another EA game) there was a massive server merge down to two in NA and in that:
 
"If you have Strongholds from more than one Legacy coming together, both will be added to your list. If you have more than one of a specific Stronghold (such as multiple Coruscant Apartments), they will both be retained and accessible. If the combination of the two Strongholds takes you above the cap of eight, they will all be retained. However, you cannot activate new Strongholds until you return to a number below the cap."
 
strongholds are in game housing. so basically if you played on 3 servers and had 3 houses on each, one of those had to go... even though you payed for it. granted, given that there are only 6 total at the moment, that does mean you had several of the same ones.  i bought all mine via subscription cartel coin (IGU) rewards... so didn't bother me.
 
anyway... i am getting off topic.
 
i don't have kids, but this just seems wrong.  as an adult (50+), i am pretty good at keeping track of what i am doing with my money... as a kid i am not sure i would have been. so, i hope that some form of what the reps from HI are talking about does happen.  i think it would be a good thing.
 

Last Edited on: 12/10/2017 at 12:04 PM
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Ban Saighdiuir de na Capall
Salithrin
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Replied On: 12/12/2017 at 12:31 AM PST
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Microtransactions in itself isnt necessarily a bad thing. If it was, pay x amount and you get this skin and that's what you actually get, you know how much money you're spending and you know exactly what you're getting. I WANT to throw my money at games D: but I'm not going to pay for a "chance" of getting something and /or unfinished games...

 

This whole lootbox thing is (borderline) criminal in my book and should have never been allowed to be introduced in the first place.

 

Gaming =/ gambling

Which is something I have to clarify almost on a daily basis. When I meet average Joe here in New Zealand and people ask me "so what are you into" and I say "gaming" and they stare at me unbelievingly and say "you gamble?"

I had no idea until I drove past a "gaming lounge" with my boyfriend and was like "oooohhh lets have a look at that" and he explained to me how gambling is referred to as gaming here.... and then I realised the horror that everyone I've told "I'm into gaming" think I gamble :(

This is probably a thing everywhere lol but naive little me didnt know about this D: But since then I make it very clear that I'm into "video gaming.... on the computer... not gambling..." but if this trend keeps going gaming WILL become the same as gambling... so yay for people that are trying to do something about it \o/

 

 

(when I saw your post I was like "oh sh&t, he's doing math. I'm outta here!!" :D )

((also how is it possible that I have yet to bump into a fellow gamer IRL??? faceplant))

Last Edited on: 12/12/2017 at 12:33 AM
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Ridire de na Iomproidh
Gowan
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Replied On: 12/12/2017 at 05:42 AM PST

I read this, left it, then came back... this may get me in trouble or ruffle some feathers but feel I need to say my peace.  This whole loot box thing was wrong when it first came out.  Many people said so and even left GW2 in protest  along with other games.  Big outfits like Gaschioch, AOD and others remained silent.  I think we had a responsibility to come out as a organization back then and feel the same now.  I do not begrudge gaming companies trying to make money.  I appreciate the content they provide.  But they have crossed a line.  We let them cross that line. I feel had social organizations come forward as a whole and boycotted games or called for a ban on micro-transactions, or at the least publicly condemned developers actions we might have made a difference.  

As for my part, I have not spent money on GW2 except for HoT.  I have not purchased the latest expansion and not sure I will.  My copy of WW2 that I received with my new Xbox is still unopened.  I have gone out of my way to avoid games with PTW micro-transactions and have never purchased a loot box.  I am a old Boy scout.  I know I have some out dated beliefs.  But, I believe if you don't stand up for things you feel are just wrong, you forfeit all right to complain.

Last Edited on: 12/12/2017 at 05:43 AM
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Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
Foviel
Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
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Replied On: 12/12/2017 at 08:51 AM PST

 

to me another issue related to this is that there is no way to segment it out into legal age vs not legal age.  ie: only those of legal age are able to use aspects of the game that are considered only for those of legal age.  all the things i could think of had some way around them, and/or would only encourage people to find a way around them.  thus, either a game that has this in it, has to state that you must be of legal age to play... or, just not have things along this line in it. 

how they prove that the person playing is of legal age on the internet... seems questionable at best.  then again, i don't know enough law to know if they have to. that just by stating that this is a game for adults, if you go in anyway lying about your age, who is breaking the law at that point?

thus, it seems to me that the only solution is to remove them.

 

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Seaimpin de na Ulchabhan
Oreofox
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Replied On: 12/16/2017 at 07:12 AM PST
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Foviel, it would be impossible to have a way of enforcing legal age for a game. It's impossible for the internet. An 8 year old can access a porn site with 0 trouble. All of the "adult oriented" sites have a button on their front page saying "I am 18 or older" under a line that says "This site has adult material only suitable for those 18 or older. By clicking this button you agree that you are 18 or older" and so on. It would be just as easy for a child to do that with a video game.

The average age of people who play video games is in their late 20s to early 30s, yet people continue to believe video games are for children. CoD, Battlefield, and many other FPS games are rated M, yet parents purchase them for their young children.

As for lootboxes... I am with Gowan on this. I don't play games with them in it. It's why I don't play Rift or ESO any longer, and I am guessing GW2 has them now? F2P/B2P games had promise. I also miss the days when games were complete when they were sold, and if they were online, you paid a subscription and that was it. No cash shop.

I do feel the lootboxes are gambling, and are a predatory aspect. Phone games started this garbage. I remember when they said "mobile gaming is the future of the industry" and that didn't quite work out. So now they are trying to insert those horrendous money-making schemes from mobile games into console and PC games (like EA was doing with SWBF2).

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Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
Foviel
Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
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Replied On: 12/19/2017 at 02:14 PM PST

i could see ways to do age verification with new technology that is starting to get put into computers now.  mostly related to security, used to implement two factor security like fingerprints, and what SWToR and FFXIV have had with phone apps that give out numbers.  add into that something like notarized verification that the fingerprint is someone 18+ and primary user of cell phone is 18+ and that the phone app would require pin login to start showing numbers.  granted this also could be subverted by just having the 18+ allow a minor to use the game after verification... but at least it would add a level of auditing, that if someone had done that and a parent took legal action saying hey you exposed my child to explicit content or let them gamble, etc... 

but, if it asked for verification at the places where it mattered, installing, purchasing, login, inactivity, etc... then it would start to be such that it was just enough that the 18+ wouldn't want to do it, unless they were the one using it.

to me this is a lack of effort on the part of the industry to do anything about it... even admin checks at the OS level are pretty lazy about who is doing something that requires admin rights, and default to the primary user is also the admin... many apps require that they run as admin, that in my opinion if the app was installed correctly and placed data in places where it didn't need privileged access ... sigh... no, i digress... 

anyway, laziness on both sides.  the users not wanting to be bothered with the above, siblings/parents not caring that their underage sibling/child is using their account, the software industry not wanting to put barriers to the customer spending more money... 

the only way i see this changing is something really bad happening related to it. like someone figures out a way to get access to someones IRL cash due to all this lack of concern as to who is doing what, and it gets taken advantage of via the broad dissemination into the hacker community. once, peoples pockets are involved, there will be an outcry for change.  minors getting access to gambling or porn is not enough of their concern in comparison.

 

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Salithrin
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Replied On: 12/19/2017 at 10:54 PM PST
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That way I guess kids would have to go back to the old fashioned way and sneak in porn mags :D

 

Also, launch Skynet.

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Caomhnoir de na Ulchabhan Donn
Gaspara112
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Replied On: 12/20/2017 at 08:41 AM PST
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I feel obligated to offer the counter argument to the major sentiments expressed in every post in this topic. I hope everyone knows I am putting forth my own opinion and am by no means attempting to attack anyone elses'.

 

What microtransactions and lootboxes have done have dramatically increased the accessibility of games. Games like GW2 would have had a $15 monthly fee 5 years ago. That meant if you could not afford to pay $180/year you were completely blocked form playing that game with your friends when you wanted to.  I know of quite a few members of this family that could not be playing GW2 with us if it had a monthly fee due to financials.

 

Having fun in games is entirely what you make of it. If your only focused on being ultra competitive and winning then of course someone paying real money to do a few extra points of damage or beat that boss first is going to bother you, but if your goal is jsut to enjoy firends and the magical world around you then why should it matter that you weren't the first? why not just enjoy the adventure with a few friends that couldn't even be playing with you with old pricing models.

 

Yes, lootboxes can be predatory, but so are the packs of trading cards that parents buy for their kids all the time. If parents are being responsible then their children can't just start spending a ton of money gambling on lootboxes and adults who are preyed upon were likely to run into their susceptibility to gambling addiction at some point and this is a much safer way to find out. Additionally random chance has been a staple of games for almost as long as there have been games, heck the way i played Diablo 2 Meph Runs back in the day it might as well have been a slot machine simulator I was just spending time instead of money.

 

The way I see it the optional microtransaction monetization strategy is the most gamer friendly monetization strategy we have ever been offered even if some games go too far in trying to convince players to pay out real money.

 

Important to note I say all of this as someone who is financially sound enough that I could afford just about any monetization strategy but would prefer games to be more available to everyone than less so.

Last Edited on: 12/20/2017 at 08:54 AM
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Caomhnoir de na Fhiaigh Gorm
Foviel
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Replied On: 12/20/2017 at 10:51 PM PST

imo Salithrin is spot on about that, no matter what you do there is a will and a way around... tbh, I don't think it really has a place in this thread. its kinda out of scope.

as far as f2p, I hear what your saying Gaspara112... but, from what I have seen the loot boxes are just greed. I am not sure that I have played a game that had micro transactions in it so, I have a hard time commenting on that. I have a lot of things to say about f2p in general that are more in line with what your talking about... but....

I am getting on a plane to the land of no internet... or at least inconvenient internet. I wish you all a happy holidays. o7

 

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Salithrin
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Replied On: 12/20/2017 at 11:32 PM PST
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I like F2P. I am okay with microtransactions. Lootboxes are not okay

 

I'm okay financially wise now but have been in a place where I could not afford games (literally 1 dolla in the bank) so I am all for F2P. I like spending my money on games, especially to support a game that I like. But I want to know exactly what I get for how much I spend.

Take League of Legends for example, they sold skins for real money. You knew exactly what skin you got and what you were paying for it (I dont know if this is still the case, they may have introduced the boxes now as well >.>)

I dont want to drop however much money for a CHANCE of getting something that I want, and getting a whole lot of stuff that I never wanted in the first place. It's like going to the store and you want to buy apples but all the fruit is thrown in together in a basket that you cant see and you pay 2 bucks to reach in and RANDOMLY grab something. Now I've got a pear, but I wanted a apple and I want to pay 2 dollas for a apple not a pear. For me spending money on a chance feels like a waste of money (hard earned money >:( )

And then I have to keep dishing out 2 bucks to finally eventually get what I was wanting in the first place and end up paying 50 bucks for a apple that's worth 2 bucks.

 

oh, and have a good one Foviel o/

Last Edited on: 12/20/2017 at 11:33 PM
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