Thursday, November 16th 2017

Overwatch, Star Wars Battlefront II Loot Crates Under Gambling Scrutiny

According to Belgium's VTM Nieuws, the Chancellor Commission from that country has opened an investigation into both Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront II loot crates, so as to rule whether or not these constitute gambling. Loot boxes being compared to gambling isn't a new debate, but up until now, a clear ruling that characterizes loot crates as such still hasn't made its way onto the courts or commissions that have been looking into these issues. That loot crates and other microtransactions are resounding successes in ever increasing monetization of game experiences is no secret: Digital River has released a report that stated microtransactions and the whole "Games as a Service" model has tripled the industry's value.

EA has been receiving a lot of flak for the way they implemented their loot boxing mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront II, which has led to repeated cycles of posturing, bullying, and ultimately some small steps backward for the company, regarding its initial stance on Battlefront II's specific implementation. Already has the company decreased costs for unlocking characters in-game, though some are reporting that for players to unlock everything the $60 game supposedly offers, they'd have to play it for at least 4,528 hours - or pony-up $2,100 to unlock all the base content.
When it comes to loot crates and their introduction to the game market, however, the way of unlocking this content is put in an even more suspect lighting. These are, after all, virtual boxes that users buy without knowing what's in the box at the moment of purchase. I can tell you that under Portuguese law as it is written, these loot boxes Are gambling, since the expected return from a player's economic investment into buying one of these can be lower, the same, or exceedingly higher than the spent money - this means there is not only a factor of luck or misfortune, but also hope for an absolutely disproportionate return.
Peter Naessens, Chancellor for the Belgian committee, says this element of uncertainty and randomness, where users are expecting certain loot items, but want certain things but do not know what they're buying, they are actually gambling. "It is thus dependent on coincidence how well you can play the game. And in that case it falls under gambling," said the director of the Chancellor's Committee to VTM NIEUWS. But EA's Star Wars Battlefront isn't the only game that the Commission is setting its sight on: Blizzard's Overwatch also has similar mechanics, though these are arguably less intrusive (and definitely lower profile) than the Battlefront debate.
EA, for their part, had this enlightening bit to say: "Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling. A player's ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game." So there's... that.Sources: VTM Nieuws, via FunkyKit
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47 Comments on Overwatch, Star Wars Battlefront II Loot Crates Under Gambling Scrutiny

#3
StrayKAT
I usually hate Europe's nanny states... but they need to smash this shit.
Posted on Reply
#4
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
They're really no different from slot machines.
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#5
StrayKAT
I only advocate an intervention btw because gamers are too stupid (not nice... I'll say impulse driven) or too young to fix it themselves. I also hate condescending words like "sheep", but that's like exactly what many are being. They're better than this, but don't know it.
Posted on Reply
#6
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
FordGT90Concept said:
They're really no different from slot machines.
Couldn't an entrance fee be considered in a Tournament where you win money a Gambling ring? Sports, Games, Fighting, Racing, eating etc?

Also Level Grinding is redundant and detracts from Replay Value at times...
Posted on Reply
#7
RejZoR
FordGT90Concept said:
They're really no different from slot machines.
Except they can be operated by anyone. You can't enter casino or use gambling stuff if you're not 18. At least in my country. So, this is an issue by itself. And I'm sure casinos won't be too happy about it. I mean, they have to obey the rules where games get a free pass for essentially same content.
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#8
TheDeeGee
What about Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Fallout Shelter etc etc?
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#9
the54thvoid
StrayKAT said:
I usually hate Europe's nanny states... but they need to smash this shit.
They're not nanny states, some EU policies are very anti Monopoly and anti trust. They like to hammer big business. For better and worse.
Posted on Reply
#10
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
I for one have finally formed an opinion on this, after years of observation, and based on a hoped for return, dependant on what amount of money you invest (for example bronze, silver, or gold loot box), it is indeed gambling. And it shamelessly takes advantage of both youth and those who do not have the comprehension or ability to make decisions like this.

I would like to see this nipped in the bud and thoroughly slapped down, forcing gaming companies to focus on, you know...gaming.

What a concept. :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#11
RejZoR
TheDeeGee said:
What about Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Fallout Shelter etc etc?
These games are free to begin with. Microtransactions in such games are considered voluntary support for developers. After Battlefron 2 outrage, I realized some are doing it correctly even in paid games. For example, CS:GO and Killing Floor 2. Both have loot crates and other micro transactions, but they are truly optional and do not affect gameplay or player progress. All you buy are cosmetics. If you don't, gameplay wise, you do not differ from anyone else even one tiny bit. Someone who buys the stuff may have silly looking colorful character, but other than that, none. Same for CS:GO. While some skins are really pathetic looking and bordering to grotesque, they do not affect me. In fact someone with bright purple rifle skin can be spotted easier in the dark than someone with stock skins, so "gamblers" may even put themselves to a disadvantage.

Where in Battlefront 2, that isn't actually the case. They interfered with progression too much with this crap and that's what's hitting them hard now. Not to mention artificially blocking "free" progression for X hours. Where you can still gain whatever crap if you pay real money for it and can progress without any problems. And this is really what people are seriously angry about. Cosmetics, fine, whatever. If someone wants to buy 500€ worth of silly hats and weapon skins, then do it. I think it's stupid and retarded, but whatever, it doesn't affect me or anyone else. But when you entirely change the gameplay and progress for those who don't want to pay beyond the initial game price, that's just garbage and worthy of any boycott.
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#12
TheDeeGee
RejZoR said:
These games are free to begin with. Microtransactions in such games are considered voluntary support for developers. After Battlefron 2 outrage, I realized some are doing it correctly even in paid games. For example, CS:GO and Killing Floor 2. Both have loot crates and other micro transactions, but they are truly optional and do not affect gameplay or player progress. All you buy are cosmetics. If you don't, gameplay wise, you do not differ from anyone else even one tiny bit. Someone who buys the stuff may have silly looking colorful character, but other than that, none. Same for CS:GO. While some skins are really pathetic looking and bordering to grotesque, they do not affect me. In fact someone with bright purple rifle skin can be spotted easier in the dark than someone with stock skins, so "gamblers" may even put themselves to a disadvantage.

Where in Battlefront 2, that isn't actually the case. They interfered with progression too much with this crap and that's what's hitting them hard now. Not to mention artificially blocking "free" progression for X hours. Where you can still gain whatever crap if you pay real money for it and can progress without any problems. And this is really what people are seriously angry about. Cosmetics, fine, whatever. If someone wants to buy 500€ worth of silly hats and weapon skins, then do it. I think it's stupid and retarded, but whatever, it doesn't affect me or anyone else. But when you entirely change the gameplay and progress for those who don't want to pay beyond the initial game price, that's just garbage and worthy of any boycott.
The contents of the Lootboxes in Overwatch are pure cosmetics as well... so why does it have to be investigated?

A Lootbox is a Lootbox... don't make exceptions then and investigate all games with Lootboxes.
Posted on Reply
#13
neatfeatguy
It's just something that's been a long time coming. Eventually there will be regulations applied to this "loot crate gambling" system.

The only real way around it that I can think of, is that EA needs to offer all these items from the loot crates for individual sale. Once they have a set price on all these items they can then apply a specific price to the loot crates and then make sure that the items that come in the loot crates - over an average - equal out to at least the same amount it would cost to buy the items individually. But, once they have things priced they also need to understand that a dollar value is now hard tied to their ingame currency. So maybe 100 gems = $1.00 They need to then make sure they have a decent balance built into the play to earn side of the game as well so you don't feel like you have to sink thousands of hours into the game to earn the same things that someone can turn around and spend $50. The time to earn in game has to be reasonable so people don't feel like they are getting shafted and must spend more money to obtain these items.

If they set it up correctly, they can skirt the gambling aspect of it and simply claim - we offer the crates as a chance to obtain something worth more than what a person puts towards it, but there is no guarantee. The return people do get from the loots is equal to what they pay for them if they were to individually buy these items directly from the store and not take a chance on a loot crate.

EA has to balance it all out within reason so no matter what option you want to go:
1) not pay anything, but only require a reasonable amount of time to earn in game currency to buy things
2) spend money on loot crates, but have no guarantee you'll land a jackpot, but atleast your return for in game currency matches what you could be otherwise spending the same amount of money on at the store
3) simply by the specific items from the store that you want and bypass the loot crates and ingame time spent playing

It's a shitty loop hole, but at least they can save face from legal action and people can decide for themselves if they want to outright buy these extras, try their chances on loot crates or simply play the game over time to unlock these items.
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#14
Prince Valiant
About time. I hope they crush loot boxes under their heel and the garbage stays dead.
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#15
Easo
While I know this is controversial, I think I do support it.
Loot boxes are cancer of gaming and should go.
Posted on Reply
#16
RejZoR
TheDeeGee said:
The contents of the Lootboxes in Overwatch are pure cosmetics as well... so why does it have to be investigated?

A Lootbox is a Lootbox... don't make exceptions then and investigate all games with Lootboxes.
If they are pure cosmetics, then I don't think it needs to be treated as harshly as Battlefront 2.
Posted on Reply
#17
StrayKAT
the54thvoid said:
They're not nanny states, some EU policies are very anti Monopoly and anti trust. They like to hammer big business. For better and worse.
Well, in any case, I don't like too much power for either one. In this case, I think government intervention is needed because consumers won't take the power themselves and boycott this crap. Most of the time, I'd let the chips fall where they may and let everyone get the stinking pile of shit they deserve. Let the market decide, etc..

But they're hurting gaming in general by letting it persist.. and I care too much about that.

edit: Pardon the obscenity btw. Not even sure what the rules are here.
Posted on Reply
#18
Basard
You wanna see gambling? Load up Entropia Universe! You can actually turn your game credits in for real cash.
Posted on Reply
#19
Kohl Baas
eidairaman1 said:
Couldn't an entrance fee be considered in a Tournament where you win money a Gambling ring? Sports, Games, Fighting, Racing, eating etc?
No, because the very point of a tournament is to create a competition between players. So the deciding point of the tournament is not a random event but the skills of the competitors.

IMHO gambling is an event where the human element is factored out or minimized to an unsignificant level regarding the outcome.
Posted on Reply
#20
Vayra86
eidairaman1 said:
Gambling!?
https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/gambling-addiction/psychology-of-gambling-reasons-for-gambling/

Let's walk it through with loot boxes in mind!

1. Risk Taking
Present within loot boxes. You take the risk of getting a low return on investment, or effectively: money lost. Take into account that the vast majority of content within loot boxes is effectively worthless towards any form of progression in the game - this classifies them as high risk - low chance of reward.

2. Escapism
Present within gaming itself, requires no explanation.

3. Glamorous
"Look bro, I won the legendary card" Hah! Posts Youtube clip of unboxing 30 loot crates and hitting the motherlode, collects views. Or just brags to friends and the community, supported by this person winning games because of OP 'cards' (Battlefront 2).

4. Social
Yes, it is socially accepted to get loot boxes. Pay to win is a choice we are allowed to make and is not frowned upon any longer, with the prevalence of this mechanic in F2P MMOs as a basic way to progress.

Let's just quote that last bit because it says it all

Psychology of Gambling: The Common Misperception
The above reasons for gambling all tie into this: most people think about gambling as a low-risk, high-yield proposition. In reality, it's the opposite: a high-risk, low-yield situation. The odds always favor the house. Despite that, the thought and excitement of hitting a casino jackpot are often too alluring - regardless of its probability.

Now consider your sentiment of 'Gambling?!' (you're saying: it's not at all that bad)

It is.

'The odds always favor the house' - evident by EA 'tweaking the system to provide the best experience'... you really have to be completely oblivious to not see this.

The one detail that is not covered by all this is the crucial difference between cosmetics in loot boxes and in-game progression in loot boxes. I do regard the cosmetics significantly less damaging to people and to gaming, because they do not tick the Glamorous box so much; yes you can show it off too, but it has no in-game value.
Posted on Reply
#21
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Vayra86 said:
https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/gambling-addiction/psychology-of-gambling-reasons-for-gambling/

Let's walk it through with loot boxes in mind!

1. Risk Taking
Present within loot boxes. You take the risk of getting a low return on investment, or effectively: money lost. Take into account that the vast majority of content within loot boxes is effectively worthless towards any form of progression in the game - this classifies them as high risk - low chance of reward.

2. Escapism
Present within gaming itself, requires no explanation.

3. Glamorous
"Look bro, I won the legendary card" Hah! Posts Youtube clip of unboxing 30 loot crates and hitting the motherlode, collects views. Or just brags to friends and the community, supported by this person winning games because of OP 'cards' (Battlefront 2).

4. Social
Yes, it is socially accepted to get loot boxes. Pay to win is a choice we are allowed to make and is not frowned upon any longer, with the prevalence of this mechanic in F2P MMOs as a basic way to progress.

Let's just quote that last bit because it says it all

Psychology of Gambling: The Common Misperception
The above reasons for gambling all tie into this: most people think about gambling as a low-risk, high-yield proposition. In reality, it's the opposite: a high-risk, low-yield situation. The odds always favor the house. Despite that, the thought and excitement of hitting a casino jackpot are often too alluring - regardless of its probability.

Now consider your sentiment of 'Gambling?!' (you're saying: it's not at all that bad)

It is.
Really people are taking this term too far if you ask me, you could say the same of Legend of Zelda or Deus Ex, or Call of Duty/Battlefield, world of warcraft etc.

There is risk in life just breathing/eating/driving/playing/working.

I have an Idea just call them treasure chests like they did back in the day...

By the way i posted the definition of gambling from 3 different sources, I honestly think people take stuff way out of context now and it's stupid.

Plain and simple. Don't do micro transactions, Regulate the boxes and allow a contents viewer in games for such boxes...
Posted on Reply
#22
Vayra86
eidairaman1 said:
Really people are taking this term too far if you ask me, you could say the same of Legend of Zelda or Deus Ex, or Call of Duty/Battlefield, world of warcraft etc.

There is risk in life just breathing/eating/driving/playing/working.

I have an Idea just call them treasure chests like they did back in the day...
This isn't about just taking risk, re-read my post. Its about the psychology of it - you're being taken, the choice you make is not a rational, objective choice, but an impulsive one fueled by a system carefully crafted to take advantage of how our brain works.

eidairaman1 said:
Plain and simple. Don't do micro transactions, Regulate the boxes and allow a contents viewer in games for such boxes...
Could not agree more with this. Contents viewer especially, because it says 'remove the RNG'. If the content is fixed, its just an in-game purchase which is just honest business - the product itself now needs to be attractive enough to be able to make people invest further. Let's pray this will be the solution enforced by governments.
Posted on Reply
#23
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Vayra86 said:
This isn't about just taking risk, re-read my post. Its about the psychology of it - you're being taken, the choice you make is not a rational, objective choice, but an impulsive one fueled by a system carefully crafted to take advantage of how our brain works.
I understand it since Free to play online games such as Project Torque/Heatonline, Crossfire, Combat Arms appeared online back in 2008/2009 with micro transactions...
Posted on Reply
#24
Prince Valiant
eidairaman1 said:
Really people are taking this term too far if you ask me, you could say the same of Legend of Zelda or Deus Ex, or Call of Duty/Battlefield, world of warcraft etc.

There is risk in life just breathing/eating/driving/playing/working.

I have an Idea just call them treasure chests like they did back in the day...

By the way i posted the definition of gambling from 3 different sources, I honestly think people take stuff way out of context now and it's stupid.

Plain and simple. Don't do micro transactions, Regulate the boxes and allow a contents viewer in games for such boxes...
This is gambling as per the definition. What's being taken out of context here?
Posted on Reply
#25
Vayra86
eidairaman1 said:
I understand it since Free to play online games such as Project Torque/Heatonline, Crossfire, Combat Arms appeared online back in 2008/2009 with micro transactions...
I fell victim to quite a few F2P and Pay to Win titles myself (such as Allods: Online) - willingly, and I had fun while doing it. Now that I think back and objectively look at those systems though, it is so glaringly obvious that the reason I had fun entirely wasn't the actual gameplay. It had nothing remarkable, all of it was stuff I did a dozen times before. Why was it fun? You could legally cheat your way to the top.
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