Wednesday, November 28th 2018

FTC to Launch Investigation on Loot Boxes

This has been a long time coming for sure: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking to launch an investigation into the practice of introducing loot boxes in video games. The issue has already been brought up numerous times in other countries around the globe (Belgium and the Netherlands being the most prominent ones against its implementation). Only now will the FTC investigate openly into this, though, following an official request by Senator Maggie Hassan during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing.
"Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smartphone games to the newest, high budget releases," said Hassan. She went on to say that they "represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022." Of course, that same value that they can hold by 2022 will likely stand in the way of any serious regulation - those are some additional $50 billion rolling through the economy, after all. And the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) obviously reduces loot boxes' issues; a representative told Polygon that "Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not."
Sources: Polygon, MCV.uk
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36 Comments on FTC to Launch Investigation on Loot Boxes

#2
Gasaraki
Please just ban them. You want to sell me an item, sell me an item not a random box that might or might not provide me with the item I want.
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#3
Diverge
Create good game content if you want to make money. They are gambling and feed on that addiction... Ban them!
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#4
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
"The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes."
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#5
windwhirl
I don't care if players get an item or items with real world value or not. From the moment the player pays with real world money directly or indirectly, to get a chance of winning something, while at the same time having a chance of not getting what they want, that's gambling.
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#6
dj-electric
FTC will possibly get bribed and loot box plans will go on. Calling it.
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#7
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
RaevenlordThey have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase.
Not true. The "something" may be worth less than nothing because you were out money to acquire it. Pay-to-win in a pay-to-play game means it is not optional to finish the game/get your monies worth out of the game. Everyone came down hard on Battlefront 2 because of that.

Gambling is legal in the USA...regulated by the states. USA will not forbid loot boxes but they will place requirements on them. For example, states may compel EA to fork over gambling fees. That added cost may make loot boxes no longer profitable, ergo, seized to exist due to cost.
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#8
TheOne
I've never understood micro-transactions, but I never understood having to pay a subscription to play a full price PC game because the developer doesn't allow local or private servers or a single player mode.
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#9
chaosmassive
loot box is lucrative sweet dollars streaming into company pocket
of course government want some of it, therefore launch "investigation" on it...
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#10
Basard
They should just ban video games all together, and anything else that SOMEbody thinks has no value, yet you still have to pay for.
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#11
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Looks like publishers will have to go back to school and learn what it means to make a decent game again... not HALF DECENT then pack it full of aids (microtransactions) up the wazzo but wholesome, entertaining, fun, fulfilling games with substance -- games so great that they sell themselves without the need to pack it full of malicious, toxic shit like lootcrates and other such predatory monetized transactions
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#12
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
No video game should require a credit card to pay unless buying the game itself.
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#13
Prince Valiant
Good to see potential action becoming a possibility. Tax and regulate lootboxes out of existence I say.
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#14
Bones
chaosmassiveloot box is lucrative sweet dollars streaming into company pocket
of course government want some of it, therefore launch "investigation" on it...
Exactly - Once that starts it becomes a matter of negotiation as to the size of the cut and such.
Love how it was a Senator that became "Concerned" during a subcommittee hearing which was probrably a think-tank for finding new ways to "Legally" exploit and get rich quick.
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#15
Vya Domus
GasarakiPlease just ban them. You want to sell me an item, sell me an item not a random box that might or might not provide me with the item I want.
This is synonymous with gambling. They'd have to ban both, which they wont.
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#16
neatfeatguy
Loot boxes aren't just targeted at those that have an addictive personality because it mimics gambling (I'd call it gambling, but it's not currently classified as such), it also caters to the fact that a lot of people these days and the up and coming generation have learned "instant gratification" or are being taught it.

People have information at their fingertips (smartphones/tablets/etc) and have become conditioned to thinking and expecting things to be instantly beamed to them.

Hopefully something good comes from the "investigation" that nips things in the bud with loot boxes.
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#17
Upgrayedd
I don't like them that much but when they are implemented into games that have large amounts of bugs and issues (FO76) is when they need checked.

Never understood that well how loot boxes are any different than trading card games.
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#18
Prince Valiant
UpgrayeddI don't like them that much but when they are implemented into games that have large amounts of bug and issues (FO76) is when they need regulating.

Never understood that well how loot boxes are any different than trading card games.
Physical goods that hold some value in the end is a big one. Depends on the TCG for how costly it is, Magic is the only one I can think of that's gotten terribly stupid and the playerbase is largely to blame for taking the abuse.
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#19
Tomorrow
but have no impact on those who do not
Except the massive grind that is put in games so you WOULD buy loot boxes to skip it and progress at normal rate. You know how games used to be before MTX.
Remember- ESA is owned by EA, Activision etc. Essentially it's their mouthpiece.

EA games are notorious for this. They look very pretty and shiny but are essentially online casinos disquised as games.
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#20
Upgrayedd
Prince ValiantPhysical goods that hold some value in the end is a big one. Depends on the TCG for how costly it is, Magic is the only one I can think of that's gotten terribly stupid and the playerbase is largely to blame for taking the abuse.
They don't really hold any absolute value though. They are meant for trading, any value given is by the consumer after opening.
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#21
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Loot Boxes you should know what you will get, mystery/wildcard boxes are different.
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#22
jmcslob
"No impact on those who don't"
Bullshit!
You put in countless hours gaining experience and getting XP just to have some freckless bitch come in and pay to devastate your experience.
Fuck outta here with that.
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#23
Fx
GasarakiPlease just ban them. You want to sell me an item, sell me an item not a random box that might or might not provide me with the item I want.
I personally have no problem with them as long as they do not enhance performance or give a player an advantage over others. They need to be completely cosmetical.

With that said, the above statement is easily the best argument that I have seen put forth against them.
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#25
ArbitraryAffection
They are addictive to purchase, I have been in the situation where I pay for a pack of something random in a game, and then you are like "Just one more, next time I will get what I want" and it really badly leads to spending a lot of money on something you didn't really want, especially bad for people who are quite impulsive (Like me)... I have fallen into the trap many times. Maybe I just need more self control, but honestly now I stay clear of loot boxes. Warframe has a few randomised packs of Mods and Relics, the higher end ones are guaranteed something pretty rare/good but the lower end ones only have trash drops (but you still are guaranteed to get something ). But I don't buy them any more. So I think more regulation on them is really needed, as they are essentially a way for a game maker to exploit people to spend more money.
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