PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo will require loot box odds to be disclosed in 2020

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#1 Posted by FinalDasa (3231 posts) -

Venture out to your local gaming establishment and bring up loot boxes to hear a spirited debate.

Unfortunately loot boxes have become video games' most recent attempt to find new revenue streams as development costs increase and things like DLC don't sell as well as developers once hoped.

After years of use, and a few threats from varying governments and politicians, the three major console publishers are stepping up to do something.

PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo announced, via the ESA, that they are all working on new ways for games to reveal the odds of loot boxes in games on their systems.

This would only apply to new games and any updates that add loot boxes.

The console manufacturers aren't alone, several publishers are stepping up as well including: "Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast."

The ESA said 2020 was the aimed time period for this change. For PS and Xbox this most likely means within their new consoles.

To be clear this isn't a requirement by the ESA and is only on a voluntary basis. However with all three major console makers on board, along with the major names within the industry, this might just be the new way of doing (loot box) things.


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#2 Posted by nutter (2292 posts) -

I don’t see how this fixes anything, frankly. It seems like step one of a 100-point plan. I guess it’s enough to get the government of the industry’s back for now, maybe...

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#3 Posted by Rahf (529 posts) -

They're trying to surface enough data to head off any future regulation at the pass. It's a decent first step in an effort to inform the player regarding their purchase.

Let's discuss this with the mindset that loot boxes are here to stay. What needs to happen for them to be acceptable, or even preferred?

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#4 Posted by gunflame88 (395 posts) -

And who's going to check if the numbers are true? If there is no oversight then it's pointless, I'm not gonna trust most of these companies to be honest with the customer considering their past behavior.

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#5 Posted by Rahf (529 posts) -

Because all of these competitors would then be involved in a monumental pact of deceit, which means that anyone slighting anyone else would run the risk of exposure and a monumental strike to their stock value. Not to mention the hundreds of employees hip to the truth. Do you really think all those people can keep their mouths shut?

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#6 Edited by gunflame88 (395 posts) -

@rahf: Right, because they worry about their deceit being discovered oh so much. They don't even care to be subtle about it. Bethesda said it wouldn't put anything but cosmetic items into the microtransaction store in Fallout 76 and then went back on their word. EA had the gall to state in the E3 2017 trailer for Anthem that it's captured in real time in-game, and now we know that the actual production of that game hasn't even began at that point, the whole thing was a fabrication. Activision Blizzard routinely injects microtransactions into their games exactly after reviews for them are out. Deceit is the name of the game in the AAA industry, and as far as I can tell their stocks are doing fine. The whole loot box hubbub started because EA was getting stupidly greedy and they didn't care about consequences, for themselves or the others making tons of money off the whole loot box racket. I don't see why they would care here either.

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#7 Posted by nutter (2292 posts) -

@gunflame88: I’m with you. This is bullshit lip service to keep government regulators at bay.

I’d rather keep the government out of it too, frankly, but this pledge (or whatever you want to call it) is still pretty much horse shit.

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#8 Posted by FinalDasa (3231 posts) -

@gunflame88: There is absolutely no way Anthem was not in development in 2017. Modern AAA games don't take two years to make.

EA's stock took a hit after the loot box troubles with Battlefront 2.

A lot of what you're describing makes it seem like a cabal of developers who specifically lie and manipulate to get your money, but really from every account things change. Maybe the same Fallout 76 dev who said only cosmetics left the company, or was overridden by an executive. You're applying way too much conspiratorial menace behind benign business decisions.

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#9 Posted by Humanity (18946 posts) -

I for one am curious how they will actually surface this data. Will Overwatch come with an entire foldout loot table showing percentages of rare to common drops? Will this be a physical insert in the box?

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#10 Edited by gunflame88 (395 posts) -

@finaldasa: Read Jason Schreier's article about Anthem's development. They had nothing but a demo thrown together in six weeks for executives by that point which served as a reference for the fake E3 2017 trailer. Actual production on the game hasn't began by that point and it was (very shoddily) finished by early 2019 only thanks to crunch.

EA's stock only took some temporary damage immediately after the Battlefront 2 scandal and only because that whole thing reached national news level.

And it was Pete Hines, the vice president at Bethesda, who promised no pay-to-win in the game. Hardly "some dev" that could just be overridden.

I don't know about any cabals, but when I see bullshit and underhandedness, I call it what it is. Any business practice that is based on obfuscation and lying is not benign to me.

Edit: Oh, and this timely article just dropped on PCG. Exploiting the psychologically vulnerable and engendering gambling tendencies in children. How benign, huh.

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#11 Posted by nutter (2292 posts) -

@gunflame88: I mean, micro-transactions originated in quarter-munching arcade games. Insert another quarter to get three more lives. That game design is based on digging one more quarter out of your pocket at a time.

Mobile games are rotten with it. My kids beg for money for Fortnite or Roblox until I tell them I’m going to take the games away.

I bought 2-3 Mass Effect 3 packs before wondering what the fuck was wrong with me.

It’s all VERY much calculated to extract maximum money from the most susceptible prey. Some of it extends the game, but a lot of it is features that used to be free, too.

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#12 Posted by nutter (2292 posts) -

Here’s a fun article:

Impulse Buying

The concept of impulse buying may not sound foreign. Free-to-play games truly capitalize on the psychology behind impulse buying. Many of the games place a time limit on opportunities to buy, forcing players to make a decision quickly. Games also use tactics to make players unhappy and suggest that impulse buys can make them happy.

If players are struggling to complete a part of the game, the game will suggest something that can improve their experience. Perhaps the player is out of lives; a game will offer a renewed opportunity at a cost to make the experience more enjoyable. Players are more likely to make a purchase when they perceive it will make them happy immediately.

Loss Aversion

Many games use loss aversion to encourage spending. The idea behind loss aversion is that players would rather enjoy the satisfaction of winning rather than losing. This goes a long way toward leading players to impulse buying. The crux of a player’s decision to pull the trigger on a micropayment centers on not wanting to lose the game. The belief that players can continue to win with the item they acquired drives them to pay.

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#13 Posted by MrGreenMan (230 posts) -

this is a very minor step in the right direction, but this likely will solve nothing other than acknowledging that loot boxes are a problem and need to be addressed.

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#14 Posted by FinalDasa (3231 posts) -

@mrgreenman: I'm kinda hoping the outrageous numbers lead to a larger backlash, or to loot boxes that are actually closer to in-game purchases because they are so generous.

But honestly I'd just rather have an in-game store to buy cosmetics when I want them.