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Jimbo Xiii

Microtransactions and Sighs

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To me it's no more gambling than buying a pack of Panini stickers. You could consider it adjacent to gambling maybe but it is not the exact same thing.

 

I make this argument cause lots of governments are asking this question themselves. Our own government in Ireland found that lootboxes did not fall under the existing legalese. Which is why I think a new definition is needed rather than forcing a badly fitting one.

 

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-10-01-loot-boxes-fall-within-normal-consumer-law-not-gambling-legislation-says-irish-government

"As reported by Irish Legal News, Stanton argued that loot boxes "fall within normal consumer law" rather than gambling legislation."

"Where a game offers the possibility of placing a bet or the taking of risk for financial reward within the game, then, in my view it must be licensed as a gambling product..." he said.

"However, it should be understood, that if a game offers in-game purchases - be they loot boxes, skins, etc. - which are promoted to gamers as increasing their chances of success, such purchases are essentially a commercial or e-commerce activity."

 

TL;DR,.no payout therefore not gambling.

 

The UK, France, Denmark and New Zealand came to the same conclusions. Belgium is the exception.

 

That doesn't mean also that vulnerable people shouldn't be protected but I find the conflation of lootbox games with gambling to be pretty gross cause of how much more damaging one is over the other.  In my view it trivialises a terrible thing.

 

I'd hate for anyone to get the impression tho that I share Blakey's POV and think lootboxes are great and people love them, cause I do think they're rubbish and can't get my head around the idea of buying them. I got out of that when I got bored of Pokémon cards.

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Its degrees of a similar thing.  Gambling addiction can be a life ruining thing and loot boxes will never have the same impact. 

 

I'm not sure about going into the psychological effects as obviously loot boxes tickle the same part as gambling but I just think more that they are a poor reward system. 

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I’d agree it’s not the same thing as “proper” gambling. It should have its own classification. But as others have said, it stimulates that same part of your brain and I don’t think it’s that far removed. If you’re wired that way and you get into them. Eurogamer ran a article on someone who had spent 10’s of thousands on micro transactions and we hear of these whales who spend thousands in these games, it’s because it targets that same feeling as gambling. Even if it isn’t necessarily the same thing to the letter and not quite as damaging in 99% of cases.  &  as you say while Most haven’t found it to be gambling  Belgium has, so there’s definitely a argument to be made for each side. 

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1 hour ago, Hendo said:

Let’s go back to my Overwatch obsession, playing Mercy a lot. Halloween skin comes out and it never drops for me. Time is running out before it goes away for at least a year, maybe never again.

 

This also effects the peoples playing habits as well. I remember me and @Duck having "Just a few more games" to try and push you over the edge into getting another lootbox. That's the other thing these games dangle lootboxes in your face for, they want you to stick around for longer than you normally would because more people going for the dangling carrot means more players on the server and therefore more people to strut about to and show off the skins if you have them . If the servers are dead then so are the prospects of making money on MTX.

 

It's the same argument of when Star Wars Battlefront II came out and people legitimised their purchase by stating that they'd never buy any MTX. That's fine, but you're putting up a population for those that do. They are using you as a body filling the servers as eyes to look upon the people that feel strongly about cosmetics and buy into it. The backlash should have carried through to nobody buying it, but Star Wars and "They're sorting it out" meant people felt OK with it. EA knew exactly what it was doing before all the furore. They were targeting the softest part of the market by putting out a very casual friendly game and hoping to get away with huge gains like they do with the sports stuff they put out.

 

The crazy thing is the whole thing is dead easy to fall into. I'm playing Anthem right now and I'm hoarding these coins the game throws at you and checking on the stuff you can buy with them. Right now it feels like it's all part of the game, but as soon as they start adding stuff and the coins start to dry up because you can't earn them fast enough the whole thing's going to start feeling predatory. Sure, it's great I'm having Coins thrown at me for doing everything now, but eventually that front loading is going to end and the only way to keep up is playing religiously or coughing up real money if something really nice comes along. Going from earning tens of thousands in a few weeks down to a few thousands a week really is a boom and bust situation.

 

I don't even like cosmetic things that much. Last time I played Overwatch I turned all the people I play back into their vanilla skins because I couldn't be fucked with it. Ultimately it means nothing anymore. It's not like Monster Hunter in every game where you wear your achievements. It's just another thing the devs/pubs know they can carve off and sell to the user. That makes me sad. Going back to Hendo going for that Mercy skin, if it had been built into the game where you had to play Mercy and get some many wins or heals it would have been much more interesting. Sure you would have got some dicks that would instalock Mercy and then do a terrible job chasing the skin, but at least they earned it when it eventually unlocked. At least you'd get a skin for the characters you play instead of it all being a huge lottery.

 

Lootboxes are a crock of shite.

 

1 hour ago, one-armed dwarf said:

People get themselves into debt with gambling. They gamble even further to cover their debt. Gambling is devestating to people precisely cause of the tantalising prospect that all the damage can be made to go away if they just keep spending more money. This is the biggest addiction trigger. Getting a new outfit for Tracer doesn't compare.

 

Tell that to the mugs that spent money on Mass Effect 3 or FIFA. These are just two examples of people running up huge tabs. Back when MTX were rocking up in phone games there wasn't a week that passed where some parent had had to contact Apple to get a huge bill that was putting them in dire straits. If you're a completion or compulsive or aiming for something specific you can run up huge bills.If you don't know what's in those boxes you have an indefinite cost on what the final price is to get all that stuff. That to a lot of people is the very definition of gambling.

 

The monetary value has fuck all to do with it. It's the high of getting what you want. For some their highs are watching their horses come in. For others it's at the bottom of a bottle or taking a pill. For others it's in getting their dicks wet. For some it's building the perfect FUT team or collecting all the skins and toys in Rainbow 6. Sure, the cash is a nice thing when you win, but that's not what drives it, it's much more complicated that you're making it out.

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The complexities is exactly my point though and why I think that trying to sweep lootboxes under the remit of existing gambling legislators isn't helpful to having a productive conversation about how to curb compulsive microtransation purchases. In my mind the discussion is being blinded by the examples of these whales. The "monetary value" ie the payout has everything to do with the pathology of what gets people into these dangerous gambling habits. It's really important and broad statements like "it's just about chasing the high of getting what you want" is oversimplifying a complicated problem. That is my point and many legislators seem to agree. So if progress is going to be made here then the argument should acknowledge these complexities a bit better than it is currently.

 

Racking up a bill of 10 grand in FUT doesn't tell us anything about the user's circumstances or habits but if he was so blind to how much money he was spending I am going to guess that he did not miss it as dearly as the poor fucker who spends their wage packet or benefits on the horses trying to escape debt they owe. In the case of a child racking up a massive bill with Apple the question should be centered around bringing in laws to help make it more difficult for money-ignorant kids to spend so easily. Not to treat it the same as gambling addiction.

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These are the ones that have come forwards. I am sure there's going to be people that have fucked their lives over this. The guy was compulsive though. He kept throwing money at it trying to get what he was aiming for. It's like putting quids in a fruit machine, it's easily done if you don't keep track.

 

I don't think I could disagree more about the money stuff. There becomes a point where it's no longer about that. It's about the psyche pushing into damaging behaviour.

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Microtransactions and lootboxes are at completely different ends of the spectrum. I love Dead By Daylight,so when that gave you options to purchase new costumes and weapons,I was happy to do so. I knew what I was paying for,and could see what I was getting.

 

There’s none of that with Lootboxes. You literally have no idea what you’re getting. It could be shite,for characters you don’t even use in the game. Worse, they don’t eliminate the possibility of “doubles”, so you could end up with something you not only don’t want,but already own. 

 

“But it’s ok,because the game gives me a loot box when I level up!” say some supporters. Bollocks to that. You get one rarely, having to grind a considerable amount to get that one box. Do you get stuff thrown at you regularly,like Modern Warfare 1 did back in the day? Of course you don’t.

 

And to those that say “lootboxes aren’t gambling”, well,how about the countries that have outlawed them, because gambling is exactly what they are. Just look at the poor sod that paid out $500 on lootboxes in Apex Legends,as he was so determined to unlock a ultra rare bit of kit, which only increases in probability due to how many you open. 

 

Fuck loot boxes. They’re an absolute disease,and the sooner they get fucked,the better.

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Jesus, it always seems to kick off in here when I'm not paying attention to the place!

 

My stance - MTX are an insidious practice, but it's really easy to get sucked in with them.

 

I'd be ok with a lootbox system like Smash Melee - the vending machine thing - provided there was no real world money attached to it, but obviously that doesn't bring even more dollars in for the devs.

 

To throw a spanner in the works/stir the pot, some people class season passes in with MTX/loot boxes. Post-game paid content that arguably could/should be on the disc (FWIW I don't agree with that stance. Meaningful DLC - for example the Borderlands story stuff - can be awesome and add a lot to a game)

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So, I think that it's tricky because well executed MTX aren't gambling.

An example I will use is the game Titanfall 2. You get a random chance of getting COSMETIC loot each time you level up. this cosmetic loot can be applied across each of your weapons or titans.

You can buy a Set of badges or colours as a microtransaction, but really it came down to what colour do you want all your stuff to be, and there was plenty to choose from without having to buy anything.

You knew what you were going to get, so it's not a gamble, and you don't have to buy the set if the cosmetic colour changes aren't something you're worried about.

 

A slightly more wonky version is Overwatch, where there are a very large number of Characters, each with a large selection of skins, icons, sprays and dialogue lines. I play as Bastion and orisa, the chance of me getting a loot box that has something I want in is slim.

This means that I wouldn't buy loot boxes, because I can see that they would be awful value. 

Again, it's cosmetic, so while it feels like a bit of chance to fleece people for some dollars, you can live without that jazz.

 

Battlefield 5 is bizzarre, there is loot, there are also microtransactions, but I still can't fathom that there's anything actually worth buying. £3 for face paint on my character? ummm. no thanks?

 

Apex legends hiding two characters behind a paywall from the off was a bit of a stinker of a move. The fact that loot packs cost an amount that is different to the pack size you buy them in is an insidious way of fencing people into buying more spacebucks.

I remember Microsoft used to have this problem when you would buy things in "points". An arcade game costs you 700 Points to buy it so the real £ amount is obscured. I believe this was the exact reason that MS stepped away from the points scheme.

 

It's difficult, because there have been so many poorly implemented attempts at the thinly veiled cash grab from games companies.

It's a model that's existed for a long time outside of games too. toy blind bags, sticker albums and no one bats an eyelid.

 

 

Would I buy an overwatch loot box? hell no. did I stop my Kid from using her pocket money to buy a loot pack? not at all, I explained the risk, she understood.

At the same time, I also bought loot packs in titanfall 2, I played the game a lot and wanted to throw some extra money at the dev team who made it.

Does it make sense to argue with people about it? well, yes, because discussion can lead to you understanding something in a different way, but if people are fine with choosing how to spend their money that's their prerogative.

 

At the end of the day... if you think it tastes like shit, spit it out.

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