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Posted by cooljammer00

Did Tyler Black quit being a professional wrestler and become a shrink?

Posted by Rafaelfc

I actually hope there is some regulation that keeps microtransactions away from gaming.

Edited by TrafalgarLaw

Did you interview them in a bar or something?

Posted by Shivoa

Man, I'm really going to enjoy this compelling content just as soon as I finish binging on this TV show that that got me hooked. I guess we kinda have an issue with describing our media as forcing itself on us as a proxy for quality.

But in all seriousness, looking forward to listening to this. The regions where gambling is heavily restricted should probably start to look at the fake wins and hooks in some games and ask if they're only regulating gambling that pays out cash because that's the line they need to draw or because they didn't realise the exact same concepts are being exploited by some games of chance (and skill, depending on region) without any chance of return.

Edited by Uberdubie

Definitely recorded at a bar. Discussing addiction and fucking they're alcoholics...

Shameful.

Posted by JasonMrazMtaz

This is cool.

Posted by Mikular

Definitely recorded at a bar. Discussing addiction and fucking they're alcoholics...

Shameful.

Sorry, are you saying everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic?

Edited by patrickklepek

Did you interview them in a bar or something?

There's a restaurant connected to a hotel where some PAX stuff is hosted in. I do believe some people might, in fact, drink there at some point. I cannot confirm this. Wait, I can--I drank there later that night.

Staff
Posted by Bishna

Audio interviews of twins is weird.

Posted by Zevvion

@mikular said:

@uberdubie said:

Definitely recorded at a bar. Discussing addiction and fucking they're alcoholics...

Shameful.

Sorry, are you saying everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic?

I think he was being facetious. It's kind of difficult to be sure though, with the inherent lack of intonation of a written comment.

Posted by Hassun

I was eagerly awaiting this Dump @patrickklepek. Thanks for the interview about this very interesting subject.

Edited by MoonwalkSA

Huh, so from the sound of this, one of the biggest offenders against actual, existing gambling laws might be Valve and their chest keys.

I'm always really surprised when I hear people (like Brad) speak positively about the way Valve does F2P monetization, I guess because they're under the misconception that most other high profile F2Ps are pay-to-win while dota 2 isn't, or maybe they're used to iOS style f2p games which are actually pay-to-win. The hat gamble has always come off as really scummy to me, even though it is just cosmetic.

Posted by cdViking

Probably my favorite Dumptruck so far. Thanks so much!

Edited by TrafalgarLaw

To comment on the topic: I find it weird to talk about ethics in videogametransactions and pricing models, a company provides you with a service or digital item YOU willingly choose to buy. How is any of it "unethical"? There are no estabilished "ethical guidlines" for pricing in videogames.

Ethics is a real different discussion, like maybe console manufacturers enlisting child laborers. It's as if the true meaning of ethics is lost. Ethics are not about petty microtransactions.

Posted by spankingaddict

Thanks Patrick . This is great .

Posted by deano546

Pleasantly surprised that Seth Rollins is a psychiatrist on the side.

Edited by KoolAid

To comment on the topic: I find it weird to talk about ethics in videogametransactions and pricing models, a company provides you with a service or digital item YOU willingly choose to buy. How is any of it "unethical"? There are no estabilished "ethical guidlines" for pricing in videogames.

Ethics is a real different discussion, like maybe console manufacturers enlisting child laborers. It's as if the true meaning of ethics is lost. Ethics are not about petty microtransactions.

Let me break it down for you.

If you make something that someone wants and you don't give it to them for free, you are unethical.

Yes, I'm being hyperbolic. This shit ain't black and white. But man! People seem to lose sense of how things get made sometimes. From video games to health care to everything in between.

Posted by muffinmcmuffin

Fantastic! Interview more attorneys!

Edited by Redhorn

As a recovering addict I'm pretty... hard to please when it comes to listening to others talk about what I've got, but I really enjoyed this. Thanks, Patrick.

Edited by MoonwalkSA

@trafalgarlaw said:

To comment on the topic: I find it weird to talk about ethics in videogametransactions and pricing models, a company provides you with a service or digital item YOU willingly choose to buy. How is any of it "unethical"? There are no estabilished "ethical guidlines" for pricing in videogames.

Ethics is a real different discussion, like maybe console manufactorers enlisting child laborers. It's as if the true meaning of ethics is lost. Ethics are not about petty microtransactions.

Ethics is more than just major and obvious issues like child labor. Ethical guidelines absolutely still exist for pricing and marketing strategies, regardless of what is being sold (price skimming, price gouging, coercive marketing, etc). The fact that some gaming monetization intersects pretty heavily with the very strictly-regulated field of gambling suggests that it might be in need of some ethical reform (or will be if it gets worse).

Plus, if it were actually true that there were no established ethical guidelines for a business practice (especially a relatively new phenomenon in a relatively new medium), it seems obvious that some ought to be established, even if those "new" guidelines don't prohibit the things that people are currently whining about.

Posted by Fungiefips

@koolaid: It's a bit frustrating when the conversation jumps from "this hampers my gaming experience" to "this is unethical and someone needs to stop these evil companies". Having a $100 option that a small child on their parents iPhone can purchase accidentally is scummy, offering crates for $2.50 is not.

Posted by Grondoth

DOTA keys and steam cards are really pushing those gambling buttons, I think. People get steam cards to get steam rich, and people sell the hell out of Dota items.

Posted by Fiyenyaa

@koolaid: I don't think that a collection of polygons and textures that makes up a rendered representation of a hat and life-saving medical care are really in the same ballpark. You can live a rich happy and fulfilling life without one, but not the other.

I think charging for a videogame hat is on much safer ethical ground, really.

Posted by TrafalgarLaw

@koolaid said:

@trafalgarlaw said:

To comment on the topic: I find it weird to talk about ethics in videogametransactions and pricing models, a company provides you with a service or digital item YOU willingly choose to buy. How is any of it "unethical"? There are no estabilished "ethical guidlines" for pricing in videogames.

Ethics is a real different discussion, like maybe console manufacturers enlisting child laborers. It's as if the true meaning of ethics is lost. Ethics are not about petty microtransactions.

Let me break it down for you.

If you make something that someone wants and you don't give it to them for free, you are unethical.

Yes, I'm being hyperbolic. This shit ain't black and white. But man! People seem to lose sense of how things get made sometimes. From video games to health care to everything in between.

I definitely can vouch for that last one. Gambling is exploiting the human nature of expecting big returns by investing small amounts (of money). But even still, you are still offered a chance on winning big, be it at slot machines or supply boxes in Mass Effect multiplayer. Is exploiting human nature like that downright scummy? Yes. Is any of it unethical? No.

Edited by Amafi

@moonwalksa: Even if they're not pay to win, most free to play games I've played put significant stuff behind a paywall. Stuff that changes how fun the game is. So you make a good rpg, say. Then you make it drop a LOT of loot, all over the place. And if you want more than 16 bag slots, fuck you, pay me. That's not pay to win, but it's making the game less fun so people will pay for it. Not game breaking, but the kind of convenience item that saves you from a trip to town every 5 minutes. Oh, and about that trip to town...If you want a mount, you guessed it.

There's a huge difference between that and selling purely cosmetic items, even if the dota stuff is kinda borderline scummy. It's certainly not the worst I've seen though, that goes to ME3 multiplayer, where the stuff you buy unlocks classes and items that severely affect gameplay and it's still a lottery.

I think the main reason brad (and most other people) are willing to accept valves microtransaction stuff is that they are actually giving away some of the best games out there for free, and not free to play free, but actual free. No restrictions on gameplay whatsoever. No grinding 3 different in-game currensies for 50 hours or paying money to unlock classes, characters or anything else that affects gameplay.

Posted by WJist

Besides microtransactions and the F2P model, I think video game pricing models may also be subject to regulation if lawmakers come in to regulate the gambling aspects. Think about it: there isn't really a "standard" price for a video game, only commonly understood values that change drastically depending on a number of factors, including time of release, used or new versions of the game, platform, and sales. How crazy would it be for there to be a bill addressing this, much how car sales (and other goods) are addressed in Congress?

Posted by MoonwalkSA

@amafi: Hah, wow, I didn't even know about that ME3 multiplayer thing. Yeah, that sounds really bad, especially in a game that isn't even free in the first place. Until now, I'd assumed that it came with everything available (or CoD-style level-based unlocks) since it was a $60 retail product.

Out of curiosity, what other Valve games besides TF2 and Dota 2 are they giving away for free? Or do you just mean other free stuff that's available through steam?

Edited by YapaPanda

Way back in the day, when I first played Diablo (the first one) I felt that the gameplay mechanics of that game preyed on the same weaknesses as gambling (albeit to a much lesser degree). Fast forward years later and numerous other games that use that mechanic and continue to push it closer to fullblown gambling pushes me away from those games. To this day I still don't enjoy games with random loot mechanics.

As an aside, great interview @patrickklepek. I feel like the tone and style of the podcast has echoes of many NPR podcasts. Was that a conscious choice?

Posted by KoolAid

This interview is pretty cool. I like having both law and psychology side by side like this.

Also, as another point, I find it really interesting what people seem to be willing to accept if it existed before they were born. All advertising is manipulative, but a lot of people (not all) seem willing to accept it because its always been that way. One of the guys from this interview says that these F2P companies view their customers as walking wallets. But that's how the majority of gaming companies view their customers. They are both businesses, a lot traditional game companies want to sell as many copies to as many people too, even if if that means a game lacking in creativity in order to gain mass market appeal. Just something I've been thinking about.

@fiyenyaa said:

@koolaid: I don't think that a collection of polygons and textures that makes up a rendered representation of a hat and life-saving medical care are really in the same ballpark. You can live a rich happy and fulfilling life without one, but not the other.

I think charging for a videogame hat is on much safer ethical ground, really

I guess I just get frustrated when some people seem to ignore the cost of healthcare just because it is a life necessity. Just because people really need it doesn't mean it doesn't have a cost. If we want to give free healthcare to everyone, we have to figure out how to pay for it. I feel some people talk about it like medicine comes out of thin air and hospitals withhold it because they are assholes. Wow... this got off topic :)

Posted by SatelliteOfLove

Free to Pay microbilkment game design is bad video game addiction, Spelunky Goodness is good video game addiction!

Posted by Deathpooky

The only thing that has kept video games from being regulated is most lawyers/politicians/academics having no clue about them. Psychological tricks aside, video game companies are basically running casinos without any government intervention.

@koolaid said:

@trafalgarlaw said:

To comment on the topic: I find it weird to talk about ethics in videogametransactions and pricing models, a company provides you with a service or digital item YOU willingly choose to buy. How is any of it "unethical"? There are no estabilished "ethical guidlines" for pricing in videogames.

Ethics is a real different discussion, like maybe console manufacturers enlisting child laborers. It's as if the true meaning of ethics is lost. Ethics are not about petty microtransactions.

Let me break it down for you.

If you make something that someone wants and you don't give it to them for free, you are unethical.

Yes, I'm being hyperbolic. This shit ain't black and white. But man! People seem to lose sense of how things get made sometimes. From video games to health care to everything in between.

I definitely can vouch for that last one. Gambling is exploiting the human nature of expecting big returns by investing small amounts (of money). But even still, you are still offered a chance on winning big, be it at slot machines or supply boxes in Mass Effect multiplayer. Is exploiting human nature like that downright scummy? Yes. Is any of it unethical? No.

It's not unethical per se, but traditionally when someone runs a gambling operation they are pretty tightly regulated, if not altogether illegal. In Vegas, slot machine odds are clearly posted and carefully watched to make sure they aren't being misused. Dota2 chests are different from slot machines, but not all that different.

Posted by VisariLoyalist

talk about first world problems oh god i can't control my gaming habits q_q i need federal law!

Online
Posted by Karsghul

Borderlands 2 has a total of $109.60 worth in DLC on Steam. Sure, Most people bought the game and season pass during the steam summer sales, but it's still surprising to me the amount of crap Gearbox threw in that game. It's not like the main game lacks content.

Game addiction or buying games addiction (steam sales anyone?) ...I think we can all agree that it's really bad for you.

Posted by patrickklepek

Way back in the day, when I first played Diablo (the first one) I felt that the gameplay mechanics of that game preyed on the same weaknesses as gambling (albeit to a much lesser degree). Fast forward years later and numerous other games that use that mechanic and continue to push it closer to fullblown gambling pushes me away from those games. To this day I still don't enjoy games with random loot mechanics.

As an aside, great interview @patrickklepek. I feel like the tone and style of the podcast has echoes of many NPR podcasts. Was that a conscious choice?

I mostly listen to NPR. :)

Staff
Posted by devilzrule27

All I want to know is if I'm still allowed to say "I'm addicted to a game" or not. I can never keep up with what is acceptable.

Posted by Homelessbird

@deathpooky: Agree with your first paragraph, disagree with your second.

I think there is a huge qualitative gap between gambling on MONEY (which can be used on MORE GAMBLING FOR MONEY) and gambling on in-game items. Sure, it might be a distasteful business model to some (especially in those Chinese MMO games where you have to open chests to get good items), but I think there are three important distinctions that make it much more OK from a legal perspective.

First, and I already mentioned this, video game gambling is mostly a closed loop (at least by design). You spend money, you get in-game items. If you want to make cash out of that, you then have to go to a third-party site and what you're doing is almost certainly not intended by the developers. The only Western game where this isn't true as far as I know is Diablo 3, and that doesn't seemed to have worked out too well for them even without legislation.

Second, while I am SURE that the government is going to want to get in on taxing all of these digital transactions some day, I can't see them wanting to get involved in legislating INDIVIDUAL transactions. It's too small scale. If someone wins a million dollars in a casino, the government has a large incentive to control that money - it's aberrant income, and it has to be dealt with. But you deciding to spend money on Dota 2 chests until you get an item you want isn't ever going to win you big money. The government doesn't care.

Finally, real-life money gambling brings a lot of other local issues. Large amounts of unexpected income needs to be spent, and so casinos are surrounded by bars, drug dealers, strip clubs,organized crime - any element of society designed to part fools from their money. This is a HUGE part of why they're so tightly restricted. Game gambling obviously doesn't have this problem either.

I'm not saying it's a good thing, in-game gambling, or even random loot models. But it's certainly not on a similar level to real-life money gambling.

Edited by Uberdubie

@mikular said:

Sorry, are you saying everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic?

Not at all. In fact, I'm a *massive* (craft) beer snob. :P

Posted by ShaggE

"Ryan Black is a lawyer. Dr. Tyler Black is psychiatrist. They're twin brothers, and they have wacky adventures together every week on 'Back in Black', only on NBC!"

Posted by Smallville123

Well no shit? The people who fucking obsess over shit for like 15 hrs a day is unhealthy. If you play like 2-5 hrs thats not so bad.

Posted by Kiri90

@hassun said:

I was eagerly awaiting this Dump @patrickklepek. Thanks for the interview about this very interesting subject.

This phrasing is hilarious to me.

Posted by mrpandaman

@kiri90 said:

@hassun said:

I was eagerly awaiting this Dump @patrickklepek. Thanks for the interview about this very interesting subject.

This phrasing is hilarious to me.

lol

Posted by mrpandaman

@shagge said:

"Ryan Black is a lawyer. Dr. Tyler Black is psychiatrist. They're twin brothers, and they have wacky adventures together every week on 'Back in Black', only on NBC!"

woah woah... where's this NBC shit coming from? This is CBS.

Edited by Deathpooky

@homelessbird: Dota2 has a market for selling items complete with tickers showing how much you items have sold for in the past. Some of the rarer items go for upwards of hundreds of dollars. It's not winning the lottery, but it's substantial money being traded around in aggregate. And the money goes to your Steam wallet, at which point you can dump it back into Dota or use it to buy completely separate games. It's basically real money even if Valve doesn't let you cash out.

And I think the secondary effect of crime is only part of the reason gambling is heavily regulated or banned. The government prohibits online gambling too. Where it's legal, Vegas very tightly controls the gaming industry for a ton of reasons, including protecting the integrity of gaming since casinos could easily rig their black boxes to tip the odds in their favor. Blizzard or Valve could do the same with their random drops to get people to keep pulling the trigger and no-one would be the wiser. People have been theorizing since launch that Blizzard screwed the Diablo 3 drop system to force people into Auction Houses.

Eventually, enough money will be involved or stories will rise to the top and this stuff will get regulated. I acknowledge there are differences, but when you open a Dota chest you really are pulling a virtual slot machine. It's hard to see that going unchecked forever.

Edited by Homelessbird

@deathpooky: Hey, I totally agree with you there - it's only a matter of time before the government gets their hands in some of this stuff. I just disagree, at least I think I do, with the amount of stuff they're going to get involved with, and the extent to which these virtual 'slot machines' are similar to real ones.

We've already discussed the latter, but as for the former - can you really see the government legislating the odds on Dota 2 chest drops? There are far too many online games with this kind of design now, and there are only going to be more. Casino games essentially don't change, and again, the thing that they're dealing with is something everyone understands - money. But new online games are popping up every month. The government moves far too slowly to get their hands muddy in understanding how any given game's economy functions well enough to try and force it to be "fair", which is a confusing concept when it comes to something like Dota hats anyway.

Like I said previously, I can totally see the government taxing online economies more heavily. that'll probably happen relatively soon. Further on, I can see guidelines about things you can't do specifically popping up after abuse has been proven in court, I could see antitrust cases, I could see all sorts of things, but I really think we're a long way off from the government going into a Diablo 3 and saying "axes can't cost more than this, and must drop at least this frequently from these guys", or anything even remotely close to that. I think they're just gonna want a slice of that money, and then they'll mostly wash their hands of it.

Posted by spraynardtatum

These guys made a pretty compelling argument that I may be addicted to video games.

Really great listen.

Edited by Brodehouse

I CAN QUIT ANYTIME I WANT

And I have, a long time ago. I only play games that I want to play and I quit playing them when I don't want to play them anymore.

Posted by ShaggE

@shagge said:

"Ryan Black is a lawyer. Dr. Tyler Black is psychiatrist. They're twin brothers, and they have wacky adventures together every week on 'Back in Black', only on NBC!"

woah woah... where's this NBC shit coming from? This is CBS.

True, but wouldn't you rather catch all the great programming on NBC? NBC only offers the finest in entertainment and information. As an entirely unaffiliated third party who doesn't even know what "shill" means and resents the implication thank you very much, I find NBC and its affiliates to be seeeeeensational!

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