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U.S. FTC Chairman Promises to Investigate Game Loot Boxes


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encrypted12345



Joined: 25 Jan 2012
Posts: 486
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:36 pm Reply with quote
I'm of the opinion that lootboxes and microtransactions should be treated the same as gambling.
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SWAnimefan



Joined: 10 Oct 2014
Posts: 571
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:43 am Reply with quote
encrypted12345 wrote:
I'm of the opinion that lootboxes and microtransactions should be treated the same as gambling.


Lootboxes is a gamble since the outcome is "random".

Microtransations isn't gambling since you know what you're purchasing. Though it does prey on human desires to acquire, which is similar to gambling. Microstransations usually are just cosmetical, or purchasing "services" to expand your storage capacity so you could keep more goods.


All in all, it's long overdue and glad the momentum is starting to look into this.
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SakuraShimizu



Joined: 16 Oct 2017
Posts: 20
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:07 am Reply with quote
Honestly I put Loot Boxes and gacha on the same level as those toy machines in the stores that you put money in and it spits out a random toy. Which in Japan are called, gacha. It’s not gambling. Unless you want to call those toy machines gambling as well.
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Twilightmaster



Joined: 24 Aug 2008
Posts: 120
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:26 am Reply with quote
The problem with comparing lootboxes to Gacha like their namesake is the magnitude, honestly. A gacha costs, what, a couple hundred yen at most per attempt. If you're lucky maybe you spend equivalent to $10-20 and you have most of them. Loot boxes, especially in the Gacha games ask you to spend typically around $40 for what I equate to a booster pack in a TCG. Usually 10 assorted items with a very small chance of having a "featured item". It typically takes months of time to farm enough in-game currency to pull a handful of times and with those pulls you likely get mostly garbage. The rates to get the so called "featured items" is so small that most are in the 0.01% chance of appearing.

You're literally spending hundreds of dollars to have a minuscule chance to get a digital item. It's predatory by nature, as they've made the rates so low you have to spend money to even have a chance to get what you're looking for, since there's no trading mechanic or ways to increase your odds. I don't really see how this is any different than placing a bet on something akin to horse racing, it's basically the same thing but in this case you're not even getting anything of value for it since every item in a lootbox is just 1s and 0s.
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RoninX



Joined: 03 Aug 2016
Posts: 9
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:45 am Reply with quote
Twilightmaster wrote:
The problem with comparing lootboxes to Gacha like their namesake is the magnitude, honestly. A gacha costs, what, a couple hundred yen at most per attempt. If you're lucky maybe you spend equivalent to $10-20 and you have most of them. Loot boxes, especially in the Gacha games ask you to spend typically around $40 for what I equate to a booster pack in a TCG. Usually 10 assorted items with a very small chance of having a "featured item". It typically takes months of time to farm enough in-game currency to pull a handful of times and with those pulls you likely get mostly garbage. The rates to get the so called "featured items" is so small that most are in the 0.01% chance of appearing.

You're literally spending hundreds of dollars to have a minuscule chance to get a digital item. It's predatory by nature, as they've made the rates so low you have to spend money to even have a chance to get what you're looking for, since there's no trading mechanic or ways to increase your odds. I don't really see how this is any different than placing a bet on something akin to horse racing, it's basically the same thing but in this case you're not even getting anything of value for it since every item in a lootbox is just 1s and 0s.


This guy gets it
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Raneth



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 245
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:18 am Reply with quote
There's two major arguments why gacha is not gambling the same way scratch cards/slot machines are. I don't necessarily agree with them, but they're worth considering.

The first is that there is an end point. Once you get that featured item, you're done, there's no reason to keep pulling. Of course, all companies that rely on gacha keep rates low enough or keep releasing rare things often enough that people are essentially strung along forever. But one could make the argument that for any individual consumer, the behavior is self-limiting, because once you get the rare, you stop. When you win a slot machine, you get more money to gamble with, which perpetuates the behavior. This isn't true of gacha.

The second is that you always get something in gacha. When you put a quarter into a slot machine and lose, you get nothing. When you put money into gacha, you always get something. Of course, that something could be a duplicate of what you already have, or functionally useless, but its still something.
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CatSword



Joined: 01 Jul 2014
Posts: 1141
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:18 am Reply with quote
The solution for this is for the ESRB to treat lootboxes as real gambling and give any game with them an AO rating. After this change is made, give existing games with lootboxes 30 days to become compliant before being rerated as AO.
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:16 am Reply with quote
At this point, there’s so much misinformation with customer base, so many people willing to defend predatory companies out of some warped degree of fanboy/fangirl loyalty, that government intervention and legal consequences to protect the people is literally the only option left that game companies cannot laugh off as whining from a customer base that will buy their product anyway. See also the potential class action lawsuit against Bethesda. This is how you make them listen.
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meruru



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 265
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:34 am Reply with quote
They article is using a pic from puzzle and dragons, which is a gatcha game I play. A random card typically costs about five dollars in their premium currency, except they give out their premium currency so much that you don't really need to pay anything at all to be reasonably successful at the game. But still, I agree that it's kind of like gambling. There are gatcha machines in Japan that are priced more expensive, like five hundred yen, also. Though most are less than that. I don't entirely buy they're like gatcha machines defense as gatcha machines are a bit predatory too. They're very ubiquitous, with entire stores that are nothing but gatcha machines in Japan. I hope it they do regulate loot boxes, they come to some happy medium, rather than banning it altogether because I do like Puzzle and Dragons alot, even having spent not very much on it.
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TheAnimeRevolutionizer



Joined: 03 Nov 2017
Posts: 261
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:37 am Reply with quote
I like what RoninX has to say.

I wouldn't trust legislation with this entirely, however. Next thing we know, the anti video game and fun crowd crawls out of the woodwork and goes as far as stretching it to video games with RNG mechanics.
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:55 am Reply with quote
meruru wrote:
They article is using a pic from puzzle and dragons, which is a gatcha game I play. A random card typically costs about five dollars in their premium currency, except they give out their premium currency so much that you don't really need to pay anything at all to be reasonably successful at the game. But still, I agree that it's kind of like gambling. There are gatcha machines in Japan that are priced more expensive, like five hundred yen, also. Though most are less than that. I don't entirely buy they're like gatcha machines defense as gatcha machines are a bit predatory too. They're very ubiquitous, with entire stores that are nothing but gatcha machines in Japan. I hope it they do regulate loot boxes, they come to some happy medium, rather than banning it altogether because I do like Puzzle and Dragons alot, even having spent not very much on it.


Wasn’t there an incident where a Japanese man went to the Yakuza for a loan to feed his gatcha addiction?
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meruru



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 265
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:15 pm Reply with quote
I hadn't heard that, but I wouldn't be surprised if that happened.
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Zin5ki
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Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:27 pm Reply with quote
Pinball was temporarily banned in several locations in the US through concerns that the game was a form of gambling, yet surprisingly or otherwise, it took a fair while for the far more insidious practice of loot crates to fall under similar scrutiny.
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jdnation



Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 848
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:39 pm Reply with quote
One major thing that people tend to forget is that the design decisions surrounding lootboxes is INTENTIONALLY made to feed on addictive tendencies and be exploitative of people's psychology in order to get them to keep spending small sums of money in large habitual quantities.

This is DANGEROUS and very irresponsible to leave in games for audiences below adult age and without a major warning label.

This is incomparable and besides-the-point with comparisons to trading cards and miniature toys from machines. As like slots in a casino, psychologists know that the machines are designed as audio/visual markers that affect a person's psychology with lights, sounds, anticipation etc. that trigger responses in the brain. In fact a lot of good psychology goes into game design with everything from sound cues to animation to rumble all which gives the player feedback and stimulus that feels good. This is why videogame addiction is a real thing just as much as gambling.

Now the lootbox thing adds to this problem with even worse results as now some people can lose a lot of money through this.

In many ways, the F2P model of games is similar to the methods of the internet pornography industry. There's plenty of stuff available for 'free' and not everyone will pay for it, but there will be a few whales that will.

But what games can do, and we know this through patents, is that developers can tailor the experience to suit individual players, so in one scenario one person pays more money to get something, while another person pays less to yet the same thing - AND - this is NOT BASED ON EQUAL ODDS OF LUCK - the odds can be increased or decreased! Based on which best gets somebody to spend based on tracking their individual habits! This is not something that can occur with TCG physical cards or the lottery tickets or casinos (unless those are fixed) but there is regulation for that (whether you think it works or not) and it's ADULTS ONLY, for that reason and more.

Also due to wanting to exploit this system, game design is deliberately borked and hamstrung, so even the base games lately become increasingly RPG laden grindfests. This will increasingly turn off players and I believe will harm the industry over the long term. I myself will never buy games at launch ever again if I so much as smell something that hints in the direction of microtransactions. Now I just avoid anything by EA or Activision or Ubisoft as now they have a reputation of GAAS economies smuggled into single player.
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Narutofreak1412



Joined: 22 Feb 2015
Posts: 192
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:41 pm Reply with quote
While as a consumer, I really dislike lootboxes, I don't think that it is the same as gambling. But I think that the way lootboxes are usually designed, can be dangerous for a certain type people, especially for children.

Instead of banning, I think there should be a law like in china, were every game with a lootbox is obligated to reveal the actual chances. Often you have like a lucky wheel with 5 different outcomes or an animation where you choose 1 out of 5 cards and after you chose one, it shows that the super rare item was right next to it, implying a one out of five chance, but actually the outcome is predetermined before you even click/tap.
There has to be something like an info box you can click and see the actual rates or at least a note, saying that the rates can be viewed on the homepage. So that people fully know for what chances they are paying for.

Also I think that having microtranactions with randomized loot or a virtual currency that can be bought with real money and used for random loot, should be reflected in the games rating. Like how there are content warnings for violence, erotic, drug use and so on, there should be one for lootbox/boosterpack-like microtransactions in order to warn parents and people with tendencies to addiction when it comes to these things.
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