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    Star Wars Battlefront II

    Game » consists of 3 releases. Released Nov 17, 2017

    EA's second Star Wars Battlefront features cross-era characters and locations from the original, prequel and sequel Star Wars movie trilogies. It also includes multiplayer character classes and a story-driven single-player campaign.

    US State Rep: "This game is a Star Wars themed online casino."

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    SpaceInsomniac

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    #1  Edited By SpaceInsomniac

    There's already some discussion about this topic on the forum, but this is a pretty big development that I felt deserves its own thread. A US State Representative has denounced what he referred to as "predatory behavior" by Electronic Arts in regard to the loot boxes found in Battlefront II. He also announced that he's been working with other states on the issue, and they're looking at creating legislation to prohibit the sale of loot box games to anyone who is underage, as well as "prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms in those games."

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    DinosaurCanada

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    #2  Edited By DinosaurCanada

    I don't like the idea of the government, and especially people who very likely aren't players themselves, reaching into actual games development. The threat of this should be enough action for companies to straighten up about this stuff, but at some point these problems tie into issues with the industry at large, and then those tie into the system that we have as a country altogether. We'll just have to see where it goes.

    Its funny though, this never would have happened if it wasn't EA. What a company.

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    deactivated-6050ef4074a17

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    The video game industry has brought this kind of attention on themselves. They really only have themselves to blame - they've neglected to self-regulate on this issue and it's just gotten more and more out of hand as time has gone on.

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    Teddie

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    As gratifying as it is to see this shit blowing up in the industry's face, I gotta worry that this'll eventually end up going beyond just regulating loot boxes.

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    SpaceInsomniac

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    #5  Edited By SpaceInsomniac

    @dinosaurcanada said:

    I don't like the idea of the government, and especially people who very likely aren't players themselves, reaching into actual games development. The threat of this should be enough action for companies to straighten up about this stuff, but at some point these problems tie into issues with the industry at large, and then those tie into the system that we have as a country altogether. We'll just have to see where it goes.

    Its funny though, this never would have happened if it wasn't EA. What a company.

    I know what you mean. I'm kind of torn on the issue. On one hand, I generally don't like the government stepping in, or parents telling the government that they need their help raising their kids. On the other hand, I couldn't walk into a casino as a 16 year old, but I could blow all my savings on video game loot boxes. If the US government feels the need to regulate the former, I don't know why they'd accept the latter.

    Also, way too much talk concerning "marketing to children" in that video. If EA is specifically "marketing to children" they're ignoring two-thirds of their customer base.

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    whitegreyblack

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    @dinosaurcanada said:

    I don't like the idea of the government, and especially people who very likely aren't players themselves, reaching into actual games development.

    Publishers have demonstrated clearly that they are completely unable to self-regulate. The ESA/ESRB sweeping aside criticisms of lootboxes and microtransactions certainly didn't so the industry any favors. You reap what you sow, in my opinion.

    I and many others have been harping about the possibility of legislators reaching again into the video game industry. It's not like this has come completely out of left field.

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    ll_Exile_ll

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    #7  Edited By ll_Exile_ll

    The whole "protect our kids" angle this press conference takes seems very out of touch with the real issues here. The issue of underage gambling should be an aspect of the conversation for sure, but gambling is either illegal or highly regulated for people of every age in the majority of the US and the world. Lootboxes use predatory psychology that can target people of any age, this is far more than an issue of protecting kids.

    The idea that Battlefront is targeted primarily at children also seems off base.

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    SpaceInsomniac

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    #9  Edited By SpaceInsomniac

    @ll_exile_ll said:

    The whole "protect our kids" angle this press conference takes seems very out of touch with the real issues here. The issue of underage gambling should be an aspect of the conversation for sure, but gambling is either illegal or highly regulated for people of every age in the majority of the US and the world. Lootboxes use predatory psychology that can target people of any age, this is far more than issue of protecting kids.

    The idea that Battlefront is targeted primarily at children also seems off base.

    Yeah, it's funny that only the minister seemed to be taking the matter seriously as a public issue, rather than a protecting children issue. His point about people of all faiths not wanting gambling in their communities was also well made.

    One video I watched made the point that people with gambling addictions probably can't play any of these loot box games. What used to be a completely unrelated vice has infected their hobby. Just the thought of that really sucks.

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    Cagliostro88

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    They monetized the teens too much it seems :D

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    Goboard

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    #11  Edited By Goboard

    @cagliostro88: Hey now, if you read the ESRB's description for T rated games then it's only simulated gambling. Let's not get toooo carried away. Now instead of getting the chance to make their real money back they get intangible digital currency for the chance at intangible digital items or a different intangible digital currency!

    http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.aspx

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    deactivated-61665c8292280

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    lol he said "it's a trap"

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    Cagliostro88

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    #14  Edited By Cagliostro88

    @goboard:I'm in for only for heavier gambling, the kind only M rated games like the first Witcher and virtual dice poker could give me

    Loading Video...

    @dudeglove: it's so weird seeing the first response of americans is to fear government intervention; as a EU citizien I tend (not always) to rejoice when the various commissions start to look into stuff like this. It really makes the different attitudes very apparent

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    GundamGuru

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    #15  Edited By GundamGuru

    @ll_exile_ll: @spaceinsomniac: I think the "marketing to kids" think is twofold, first Star Wars is a merchandise-driven franchise traditionally marketed at kids. But also, it's the way other big companies have been tackled before, like alcohol and tobacco, by using the "won't somebody think of the children" justification to enable legal jurisdiction, even if that's not the real motivation. As in, they want adults to quit doing whatever it is too, but that's harder to sell the constituency on.

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    MisTaH_T

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    #16  Edited By MisTaH_T

    The same thing might be happening in Victoria Australia. Kotaku Australia posted an article today.

    It's not just the state of Hawaii that are investigating loot boxes. In email correspondence with a local university student, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) has revealed that, yes, loot boxes constitute a form of gambling - at least in Victoria.

    https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/11/victorias-gambling-regulator-loot-boxes-constitute-gambling/

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    viking_funeral

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    @cagliostro88: That's because the American government has a tendency to ban or make stuff very hard to get. Cigarettes require 21 years of age in some states. Alcohol is 21 all over, the highest age in the world. Kinder is completely banned. So are elder berries. The typical reaction is often that or harsher punishment. So people are rightfully worried about overreaction.

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    Cagliostro88

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    TheHT

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    Wonder if publishers immediately cave or actually try to defend this sort of shit. Can't imagine they'd be so keen on it to suffer the heaps and heaps of bad press they'd get (in addition to what they've already gotten).

    I'd be very interested to see what kind of defenses they use if they did though.

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    Cagliostro88

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    On a more serious note, it's all too common nowadays, particularly with tech companies, for Europe to regulate the US. Germany has slapped Facebook around, both Google/Android and Microsoft got smacked for antitrust/anti-monopoly (play store and browser stuff), Uber got banned in London and now the land of chocolate is bringing the thunder to EA.

    Yeah that why I can't wait for the EU and European governments (except obviously for Ireland, Netherlands and Luxembourg, to which governments i send a respectful fuck you, except for Michael D Higgins who i want to adopt as my new grandpa) to finally go big and close the loopholes for tax avoidance for tech giants. So far has been a circle of elusion and fines/settlements that has not been effective at all (to give you an example, Facebook in 2015 sold advertisement in my country for 224.6 milion euros and paid 0 in taxes on that, only 203 thousands for their offices here; they will be "convinced" maybe in the future to pay a settlement like with Google and Apple but that's not enough).

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    Goboard

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    @theht: Without a doubt they will try and fight this. The mobile industry has shown that there is too much money in it for AAA publishers to want to back down that easily. Speaking of mobile games, those studios and publishers will also be a part of this discussion now too because any legislation that targets loot boxes should encompass a big part of that portion of the industry. My initial guess is they'll begin by arguing the industries history of self regulation by pointing to the ESRB and have the ESRB re-evaluate it's stance on loot boxes as gambling. While that may be the start, many games in the mobile market aren't rated by the ESRB because the marketplace that sells them doesn't require a rating on the box like most retail outlets do before they sell the game. This will likely require mobile app stores to operate similarly to how retail outlets currently do with regards to only selling games that have an ESRB rating.No idea what the cost for Google or Apple will be to meet this requirement in good faith but they may not be too willing to shoulder that cost. With the changes to how the ESRB charges for their ratings services, depending on how this goes it could be helpful or harmful to smaller developers.

    This is all speculative on my part, but the industry has been down this road before and likely wants a similar outcome.

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    mike

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    Fantastic, the US Government might get involved. I'm sure this will go well.

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    SpaceInsomniac

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    @cagliostro88: That's because the American government has a tendency to ban or make stuff very hard to get. Cigarettes require 21 years of age in some states. Alcohol is 21 all over, the highest age in the world. Kinder is completely banned. So are elder berries. The typical reaction is often that or harsher punishment. So people are rightfully worried about overreaction.

    As a more gaming related example, here's a US politician stating his opinion that Night Trap should be taken off the market. Not sold with a warning label. Not sold only to adults. Removed from store shelves entirely.

    Loading Video...

    So yeah, some in the US are always concerned with government overreach.

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    whitegreyblack

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    #25  Edited By whitegreyblack

    @mike: The game industry brought it on themselves, though - it's not like they've been acting on good faith and being good stewards of the path and the light, and big bad gov'ment came knocking the doors down just to watch the heads roll.

    Yes, this might have far-reaching implications that might cause some problems and collateral damage to us, the well-meaning customers (like it did in the 90's; though really it all did not go all so badly, in hindsight)... but at risk of sounding like a broken record it's not like this possibility wasn't seen coming.

    With all the money-making potential in loot boxes and microtransactions, somebody was going to take it too far: EA is just the one we all figured were going to do it even though WB made it a photo-finish result.

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    impartialgecko

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    This. Any industry that shows a top-down focus on exploitation deserves to be regulated out the ass. EA has it coming, as does virtually every other publicly-traded company.

    @marokai said:

    The video game industry has brought this kind of attention on themselves. They really only have themselves to blame - they've neglected to self-regulate on this issue and it's just gotten more and more out of hand as time has gone on.

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    soulcake

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    It's funny how much people are silently yelling Nanny state on this thread. If you don't give the government any power you might as well not have a government. Also i contacted "kansspelcommissie" those people from Belgium how made this thing mainstream. And they replied that they where already investigating the topic and that they had a influx of email around this topic the last few weeks. Glad they started a investigation. Also i am probably on some EA Black list for all the harm i might have caused them :D.

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    gaff

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    I feel Chris Lee's reddit post needs to be added here:

    Chris Lee here - I'm the one in the suit. My staff just told me someone apparently found this youtube upload before we had a chance to finish putting it together, but I thought I'd leave it up and just post here to explain that this fight can be won if people step up. This fight is about protecting kids, protecting families, freedom from exploitation, and the future of entertainment in this country.

    People are more powerful than they think. While we are stepping up to act in Hawaii, we have also been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue. Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.

    Even so, elected officials can't do it alone. They need your support and you can compel action wherever you live by calling and emailing your own state legislators and asking them to act. But don't stop there. Call your allies. Call your pastors and teachers and community leaders. Ask them to call your state legislators as well. Their voices are politically powerful.

    I believe this fight can be won because all the key bases of political support across the country are on the same side. The religious community, the medical community, the education community, consumer advocates, parents, even many business leaders and local chambers of commerce. This is a fight that unites everyone, even the most polarized conservatives and progressives. Doing something is a political win for Democrats and Republicans alike. And frankly, we don't need to change the laws in every state - we just need to change a few and it will be enough to draw the line and compel change.

    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.

    Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one. You have the power to get involved and decide this and the choice is clear: stand up now, or let this be the new normal from this point forward.

    I've italicized the more important parts.

    A few more things: As per Brown vs ESA, the Supreme Court has ruled that video games qualify for First amendment protection. Conveniently, and I am NOT a lawyer, I take that to mean the content, in other words the narrative. Conversely, elements like loot boxes, microtransactions and so on, I feel fall under the business practices of publishers and as such would not be covered by the First Amendment.

    And as an EU citizen, the US resistance towards any government intervention is understandable but still baffling to some extent. Of course, given the current administration, I completely understand.

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    sammo21

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    This is all ridiculous. I wish we could discuss this crap without the massive stretch of "This is like gambling!" when its clearly not. When I gamble I don't have the option to engage in the "game" without gambling. I don't have the ability to receive stuff (in actual gambling this would be money) just for playing. Trying to make this a 1:1 comparison just feels ridiculous.

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    OurSin_360

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    #30  Edited By OurSin_360

    I am more worried about the repeal of the net neutrality act, but the esrb should have stepped in and put a rating on this stuff first. I agree that these practices are predatory and definitely shouldnt be focused on the underaged, lack of self governing led to this.

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    Panfoot

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    #31  Edited By Panfoot

    Good, hopefully this at the very least puts the scare into EA and other publishers.

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    ll_Exile_ll

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    @sammo21 said:

    This is all ridiculous. I wish we could discuss this crap without the massive stretch of "This is like gambling!" when its clearly not. When I gamble I don't have the option to engage in the "game" without gambling. I don't have the ability to receive stuff (in actual gambling this would be money) just for playing. Trying to make this a 1:1 comparison just feels ridiculous.

    So I take you've never played poker without real money stakes? Saying lootboxes can't be qualified as gambling just because you can engage with it and avoid the real money aspect is basically like saying high stakes poker isn't gambling because you can choose to play casual poker with no money involved instead.

    Yes, there are other differences as well, but there is a fundamental similarity at the root of the issue. Lootboxes psychologically prey on the idea that by just spending a small amount of money, you could get lucky and win big. Everyone knows the odds of the winning the lottery are infinitesimally small, but millions still play because there's that nagging thought in the back of your mind that maybe you could beat the odds and win. Lootboxes tap into that same idea, that by spending a few bucks maybe you'll get that thing you really want.

    Lootboxes aren't a 1:1 comparison to a casino, but they exploit the same aspects of human psychology in order to get people to spend money.

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    Strangestories

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    #33  Edited By Strangestories

    @sammo21: While this isn’t 1:1 to gambling, loot boxes still prey on people in the same way that gambling does. Gambling is an analogy for what is happening and analogies are not 100% equal to what they are referring to. Either way you are putting money on the line hoping to gain something worthwhile at the whim of random chance.

    You claimed in another thread that gullible people are the problem, not loot boxes. While gullible people are part of the problem, there are also those who have a serious gambling problem and thrive off of getting what they want after spending huge amounts of money. These are the ‘whales’ so many people talk about.

    Yes, it’s a bit more complicated than saying “It’s gambling!” But the biggest takeaway is that massive game companies are using psychologically predatory and manipulative tactics to get money from people through a random reward system.

    But really, I just want to point out that not everyone is or can be like you or me. We aren’t interested in the loot box model for whatever reason but that’s just us.

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    Naoiko

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    I knew this was coming considering how much games have been moving towards the loot box model. Is star wars battle front two the next night trap? Who can say. But they got no one to blame but their selves for not stepping up and regulating it themselves. You can't let greed blind you, cause if you do this sorta thing happens.

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    sammo21

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    @ll_exile_ll: Yes, I have and that's not gambling; its simply playing poker. Gambling is literally the wagering of money or something of value. If I am playing Uno and wagering cash I am gambling. If am playing Uno w/o that I am playing Uno.

    @strangestories "Yes, its a bit more complicated than saying its gambling" - then we shouldn't be calling it gambling, which is what practically everyone who is railing against loot boxes is doing. Blind box items have been a things in physical goods for a very, very long time but for some reason when it gets to video games we got really touchy about it.

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    KnightDehumidifier

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    Here is where I'm doubtful: American politics are derived nowadays to work hand-in-hand with businesses in mind to generate revenue and assets. We have a president who is a former casino magnate who sold his name on everything, from steaks to education. They'll make it seem like the market should be left to decide and the government should not intervene, to which the market will embrace this concept and roll with it.

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    disco_drew22

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    @sammo21: I agree that it is a little too convenient to equate them, but there are certainly some similarities.

    If you’ve been to a casino at all lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen the newer games with touch screens that often have moments where you open blind boxes that contain some amount of credits. I remember playing Hearthstone for the first time not long after my first casino trip and being stunned at how closely it replicated that.

    You may not be playing for money and you may be playing for “tangible” digital goods, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of these companies employ psychologists whose job it is to ensure that the loop feels so good you want to spend more money to keep rounding it. Humanity is weak to this kind of exploitation, and someone needs to stop publishers from reaping the excess benefits.

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    avantegardener

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    #38  Edited By avantegardener

    @dudeglove: it's so weird seeing the first response of americans is to fear government intervention; as a EU citizien I tend (not always) to rejoice when the various commissions start to look into stuff like this. It really makes the different attitudes very apparent

    It's peculiarly American problem, which obviously stems from their historical emancipation ( give up my gun! And let the king of England come stomping back in!)

    A verrry basic view is that government in America is basically a business, and lobbyist control agendas, resulting in outcomes that often do not benefit its citizens. Combining the fact that each state (like Europe) is relatively autonomous, Federal (country wide) interference is often seen as a negative.

    Why they have a system like this is whole other question.

    Europe is by no means perfect, but on the surface it certainly appears more civic than our US cousins.

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    sammo21

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    @disco_drew22:Some of that is just the natural progression of slot machines with technology just like how newer pinball machines look compared to those from the 70s and 80s. I'm not going into the territory of "it doesn't effect me so its not important" but at some point where is the personal responsibility? Let's take Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for example. I would earn loot boxes at a pretty steady pace if I play the game normally. Not only that but they regularly have double XP weekends which increase the amount of loot boxes you can get. None of those items change the way the game operates or how well you do, so its merely a case of "maybe I'll get that skin that makes my gun look like bacon." I think its weird to take that scenario and compare it to gambling at a casino or the race track. In those scenarios, if you "lose", you get nothing. In a loot box scenario you are still getting stuff for your money it just may not be something you want. I'm curious if, for example, Overwatch made it where a skin cost $20 but you could still buy loot boxes like normal if people would still have problems with this.

    Companies have been hiring psychologists way before there were even loot boxes in games. Hell, Bungie had one on staff to help with the creation of their Halo 3 maps (maybe even 2 but I know 3 for sure). I wouldn't demean the practice outright.

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    nicksmi56

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    #40  Edited By nicksmi56

    Good.

    You reap what you sow, gaming industry. You wanted more cash than what you were getting, so you started chopping out pieces of games, even the ending, for DLC but that wasn't enough.

    So you started pre-order bonuses and charging ludicrous amounts of money for "Super Ultra Hyper Editions", some of which don't even come with the actual game inside, but that wasn't enough.

    So you started charging for in-game items and cosmetics, even tampering with the game itself to make people want to buy them in some cases, but that wasn't enough.

    So in the ultimate expression of greed, you had people give up their right to even choose what they were spending money on, even tying entire game progression systems to this nonsense. Did you care that there are plenty of stories out there, some on this very site, of people unwittingly flushing hundreds, even thousands of dollars down the drain because of your scheme? Of course not! As long as you can continue your money baths, everything's fine! Heck, one of you got a freaking patent basically forcing people to pay up or die repeatedly to people who had for their entire game experience!

    So now you've finally taken it too far, and you have to deal with the consequences. You reap what you sow.

    Ha, ha.

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    matiaz_tapia

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    Did that guy say " it's a trap" in reference to....no...yes?...nooo...It can't be. It should not be.

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    soulcake

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    @gaff: "the US resistance towards any government intervention is understandable but still baffling to some extent." Yeah it's amazing that people have lost all hope in American politics while most things just stayed the same under the Trump administration. As someone who lives in Belgium it's sad to see how many people gave up on politics cause there candidate didn't win. And it's probably the not believing in politics that made Trump president in the first place but hey let's not dwell on that giant to much.

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    Nethlem

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    #43  Edited By Nethlem

    I'm just gonna add the cautionary tale of Germany here, which tried to do something similar (already decades ago) with pretty shitty consequences: The way German law defines "gambling" Arcade Cabinets are considered "gambling machines" and taxed/regulated accordingly.

    The result of that is that Arcade Cabinets are a rare sight in Germany, you usually only find them inside actual gambling dens, where only adults are allowed to enter because only adults are allowed to use "gambling machines". That's why there is pretty much no Arcade culture in Germany, if you want to play Arcade games in Germany you have visit avenues where broken people drink and gamble away their last money.

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    notnert427

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    Wow, this instantly turned into a bunch of people trashing the U.S. from abroad. Awesome.

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    AdamALC

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    Oh look, the stupid is spreading. Congratulations on inviting the government's opinion into this grand stupid world of video games again. You could have just not bought what you didn't like, but no, that would be too logical. Please hold the door for Tipper Gore, arm chair psychologists, and everyone who can make money over irrational panic.

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    AdamALC

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    @gaff: Personally, I don't like government intervention because it is run by knee jerk emotional reactions of uninformed people. They will see a headline, pressure representatives who are constantly bucking for reelection to save the children, and we will have congressional hearings over bullshit again. This is not a modern phenomenon, this is a repeat of the 80's. It doesn't live an die on the current issue, it just gets a foot in the door.

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    TurtleFish

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    #48  Edited By TurtleFish

    The problem, as other people have pointed out is that corporations don't know when to quit, because corporations exists for one purpose - making money. Anybody who thinks that isn't the one underlying concern is being naive about the whole affair. And anybody who believes in absolute free market capitalism, is now getting a lesson of what happens when you throw tens of billions of dollars on the table. There is no such thing as a self-regulating industry. (See what happens when the ISPs are given free reign after Net Neutrality goes away, but the regulations to prevent any sort of government competition are kept in place. You think your internet service is bad now? HA. You ain't seen nothing yet.)

    The thing is - we forget corporations aren't monolithic structures - they're groups of people making decisions. It's been pretty obvious that EA's senior executive team haven't been doing their homework over the past couple of years. And there's a lot of me-too in the industry as well. The mobile industry got away with a bunch of this crap (Clash Royale, anyone?), and so the big boys tried to get some of the money too.

    Edited to add: One factor I forgot to mention - we also have people trying to get elected or re-elected taking advantage of any issue they can to create a moral panic as well. So one side builds a fire and then pours gasoline on it, and then the other side fans the flames until such time they don't need the issue anymore.

    I'm not surprised this happened. This is the history of gaming. Remember pinball?

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    TheRealTurk

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    deactivated-5ed7db3f7c897

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    People who say lootboxes are not gambling are probably right.

    In gambling you can actually win something.

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

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