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British Parliamentarian Submits Formal Inquiries to the Secretary of State Regarding Loot Boxes

After the recent heated debate prompted by pervasive loot boxes in Forza Motorsport 7, Star Wars Battlefront II, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and other games, a British Parliamentarian recently submitted two formal inquiries to the UK Secretary of State requesting the government's assessment of loot boxes as in-game gambling and what steps they plan to take to protect children from this issue.

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codelyoko60d ago

Maybe if they do something in the UK other countries could follow.

Mikelarry60d ago

I am hoping so, it needs to be regulated

Vhampir60d ago

Yes, lets have a government "fix" it, because the government always makes things better, right?

If you don't like loot boxes, don't buy them. Don't buy games that have them.

aconnellan60d ago

What do you think the government could/should do to help regulate loot boxes?

rainslacker60d ago

Generally, in a consumer market, the market itself can regulate itself. There are things that may require regulation, because it's easy enough to abuse a system to do things which are considered inappropriate....like targeting marketing towards kids for alchahol or cigarettes, but other than that, there isn't much need to do anything beyond that. So long as there is no misleading advertising which makes a product something more than it is, the publishers can do what they want, and the consumer can choose to partake or not.

In this case, the consumer seems to know that they may not get what they want. They know it's a "gamble". It's not a predatory practice It's a distasteful product to many, but that doesn't make it something worthy of regulation.

I'm not a fan of MT at all, and find loot boxes pretty much the lowest form of MT. But I don't feel that government regulation is necessary.

I'd be for the inquiry defining what loot boxes fall under, except the governments have a penchant for thinking they need to protect everyone from everything, and if they can gain control over something by defining it as something it's not, then they will.

RommyReigns59d ago (Edited 59d ago )

@aconnellan

At the very least, enforce the implementation of the odds or percentages of getting what players aim for in a pack before opening the loot box. Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 MyClub 'packs' have a percentage indicator with the number of players available for each category of reward, a similar system should be implemented for all loot boxes and packs in all games to ensure players know what to expect. However, this week we have seen that the ESRB regulation, having stated along the lines of 'loot boxes are not gambling', they are outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

What should be done though is to ban microtransactions and loot boxes for full priced games,

spreadlove59d ago

rainslacker,

Self regulation doesn't always work, and it's better we get transparency and this is ripe for abuse. I hope the government starts regulating this.

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opinionated60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

I’d imagine the states are more strict with gambling than the UK. The “war on gambling” has been around since the mafia days. If they won’t classify it here I doubt they would anywhere else. Besides Asia, they basically classify games in general as drugs.

AnubisG60d ago

Something could be done because it looks a lot like gambeling. Which is illegal in many places. Though you can't win money, this is an easy way to get money out of young children.

rainslacker60d ago

Except in gambling there is a chance that you will lose what you put into it.

With loot boxes, there is no real gamble, because you always receive something from it. The only gamble is you're playing a game of chance where you may not get what you want. Not getting what you want is not gambling in the contextual sense. It can be in the personal sense though as you're hoping to get something you want.

If you brought a lottery ticket and were guaranteed to get back at least what you put into it, but potentially get more out, or some unknown prize of more defined value, then it's not considered gambling, regardless of if the person themselves finds value in that prize.

Micro-transactions in general are a way to get more money out of players in general, not just children. That isn't a criticism to be attributed to just loot boxes.

AnubisG60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

You bring up a good point. However, I would still say that it is wrong what they are doing with the loot boxes. I will never spend a penny on those.

Oh by the way, I was just thinking. In Shadow of War you get Orcs from loot boxes that can die and you won't be able to use them again because they truly die and that's it. How is that different from pulling the arm of the one arm bandit? True, you can't win money but it's borderline gambling isn't it?

Rude-ro59d ago

Both you and @rainslackee made very good points...

But would it not better to compare this to an amusement park and their booths?
Any one can pay to play the booth, but you are not guaranteed to win anything. This is also on top of paying to get into the amusement park.

rainslacker60d ago

Funny...we were saying that a lot last generation too because of DLC and MT, regardless of what kind they were. Sure, some were more accepted than others, but the general feeling was that no one liked them.

Obviously, how we feel about them is rarely considered by the publishers.

equal_youth60d ago

Hopefully this will also have an Impact on mobile games. Those have gotten even more Out of hand. It is time to unite AS gamers and forget about platforms, this effects all of US.

Liqu1d60d ago

Doubt it. China requires developers to disclose loot box drop chances yet to my knowledge no other country has followed.

Big_Game_Hunters59d ago (Edited 59d ago )

Worse idea ive ever heard. Getting the government involved in anything alwayss makes it worse. The solution is simple. If you don't like a practice don't buy the game.
#brexit

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ccgr60d ago

Curious how this will all pan out

JonnS60d ago

Think intrusive with major blocks of everything insignificant due to some arse board member or tool politician.

pcz59d ago (Edited 59d ago )

Lootbox programmers, supporters and sympathisers will be arrested and held without charge for an indefinite amount of time, all persons owning a game containing a loot box should surrender the software in a lootbox amnesty. Anyone after that who still possesses a lootbox ridden software will be faced with life imprisonment at Guantanamo bay.

XiNatsuDragnel60d ago

Just banned MTs in 60 dollar games in general nuff said.

343_Guilty_Spark60d ago

Then be willing to pay $75 a game due to rising costs of production.

AspiringProGenji60d ago

Horizon ZD, Zelda, W3, and many more were $60 bucks and no MTs whatsoever, not to mention how soon they get discounted couple months after.

equal_youth60d ago

Then buy em used or play Oldie but goldy Games. If there Happens to be a Videogame Crash the industry can only find It self responsible.

rocketpanda60d ago

That excuse is still being used? It's a myth. Meanwhile publishers shove broken games out the door and maybe if it's worth their time patch it. Does that justify asking price for AAA games? Rather offering an experience gamers want and are willing to pay for they are more interested in what DLC, season passes and MT they can implement.

If they want to raise the prices of games then let them, they'll still add DLC, season passes and loot boxes. The sooner people can stop affording them new and buy them after a few weeks the price drops the better.

Hellblade proved with high production costs it doesn't need to sell at $60 to be successful. Not MT or gated content either.

rainslacker60d ago

Why would you assume that would happen?

Even though it cost more to make games nowadays, games have a bigger user base to sell to, and software sales in general have steadily been going up.

While I'm sure the prices would go up if they actually got banned outright, we'd also see less AAA production because the risk is just too great, and even if the prices were raised, it could have a negative effect on actual game sales making it so a game could make less money.

-Foxtrot59d ago

Funny I'm playing Evil Within 2 and there's not a single MT/Loot Box or anything shitty in the game...yet it was the same price as something like Forza 7, Shadow of War and Destiny 2

343_Guilty_Spark59d ago

@AspiringProGenji do you know the budgets for any of those games.

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Silly gameAr60d ago

Holy crap. I actually agree with you on something.

opinionated60d ago

I can’t wait to see the ignorant tears flow when the obvious results come in. “Why can’t we be more fair like communist China?”

Eonjay60d ago

Not sure about China, but in most situations consumers have the right to protect themselves from corporations. We don't consider them to be above us. If there is something we don't like we get to complain.

opinionated60d ago

Yes, you protect yourself by not buying lootboxes lol. At most, all this nonsense will produce is another sticker littering the box letting you know there are loot boxes involved. “Consumer protections” issue, not a gambling one.

Pandamobile60d ago

Yeah so complain by voicing your opinion online and not engaging in that sort of behaviour. Publishers aren't withholding something necessary for life, they're selling entertainment.

As soon as you allow government to come in and regulate an industry like gaming, you open the doors to a whole bunch of overreach that no one wanted in the first place.

Liqu1d60d ago

@Pandamobile Government already regulate the gaming industry.

rainslacker60d ago

@Panda

Great comment. The gaming industry saw the dangers of government regulations back when Jack Thompson was trying to protect us all from those evil violent games. They made the ESRB to represent themselves to lawmakers to try and prevent such action, and eventually found a solution which allowed them to regulate themselves.

For the most part, the industry does regulate itself, and because of the nature of the industry being a consume product, the consumer market regulates it fairly well.

The industry of course is required to follow any regulations that exist everywhere in terms of marketing and content restrictions or what not, and they do so without much issue.

I don't see any reason why the government needs to regulate something like loot boxes, when they are nothing more than another form of micro-transaction. It's like regulating a cracker jack box. You don't know what kind of toy you're going to get(or crappy sticker nowadays), but you know you will get something.

opinionated60d ago

@Liquid
The regulations aren’t why gaming is so successful. The lack of regulation is why it’s successful. The market giants duking it out on very basic broad guidelines, gaming is the perfect example of balanced free market capitalism. Healthy competition to the point of saturation and the indie explosion. Many big names have left their studio to make smaller ones. This is because of technology that is rapidly advanced by the demand of enthusiasts, not regulations.

Game platforms like steam make their own regulations. They will give you a refund for simply not liking the game. They don’t do that because it’s regulated, they do it because it’s good business. You can import shit in Chinese if you want, the systems went region free not because of regulation. Markets regulate themselves if you let them. MTs are popular, it’s just something we have to deal with as console players. If you don’t want to deal then get a PC, an open platform with even less regulation.

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morganfell60d ago

@opinionated,

You had better cease and desist now. You are making too much sense to those of us that are tired of the government burning more tax dollars to step in and protect people from themselves and their inability to control their own actions. The culture of "I'm not an idiot, its always someone else's fault" is the apparently the way of the future. I can't wait for them to open public butt wiping stations for people incapable of doing it themselves.

Situations like this make me think of the professor a few years ago that surveyed the students in his class and asked them, "What does the government need to do for you to be successful?" Most of them said things like the government needs to pay for my tuition, the government should provide everyone a car, some even said that all housing EVERYWHERE should be free. Sadly only 2 students said the government just needs to get the hell out of my way.

2600Thunder60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

Wow. That's a stretch. This is videos games regulation, a "private" industry and thus civil matter still legislated by government. This is not exploring criminal efforts to create more of a Communist Police State.

I don't like a lot of what governments do like trying to take my guns, spying, militarized police, and racial profiling, etc., and I speak out against matters like this, but the total absence of a governing body in commerce (how we spend our money for products we want or need) is not the answer.

We need balance and this is coming from an ex-military guy who got put through the grinder by our own government from serving 2 austere tours in the middle east and saw the most useless amounts of death and waste of resources that I should be scowling at anything the gov touches. Normally I do, but when companies prey on uninformed consumers, nothing screams sleazy used car salesmen taking candy from babies than this and the gov should step in and stop it.

The reason why we can all be in our little safe bubbles ranting on a video games website in our nice cushy homes with ALL the food we can eat in America is because of laws and regulations - as well as industry. The reason why we still engage in buying Real Estate, participate in banking, accept advertising, and all the other forms of commerce is because the government protects consumers from greedy assholes.

We need balance. Not the total absence of government. Private Industry cannot self regulate and preys on the uninformed - obviously. It's our civic duty as American Citizens to use legal methods to help protect fellow Citizens from harm.

opinionated60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

"Wow. That's a stretch. This is videos games regulation, a "private" industry and thus civil matter still legislated by government. This is not exploring criminal efforts to create more of a Communist Police State."

No shit, they have to follow laws lol. What I dont get is why you're trying to get them to make more laws. What regulation would you recommend that would "fix" this perfectly legal practice? I heard somebody say "it's regulated in china" and i thought that was hilarious, that's all i meant by that. Yeah, everything is "regulated" in china lmao. The amount of kids you can have is regulated in China. Let's follow them.

"I don't like a lot of what governments do"
Because they pretty much suck at everything they do. They tear down industries and hand out borrowed/stolen money. Usually to the wrong people, like forcing banks to support subprime mortgage loans and the bailing them out when the ignorant plan caused the economy to collapse . Good job.

"I speak out against matters like this, but the total absence of a governing body in commerce (how we spend our money for products we want or need) is not the answer."

I'm not an anarchist antifa scumbag lol. I'm a constitutional republican(not the party) and a free market capitalist. I dont agree with the complete absence of government, i know it's a necessary evil. I don't want them picking winners and losers or subsidizing failing ideas either. Economic illiterates making rules for the markets is a dumb idea. You are right to not trust them.

"Normally I do, but when companies prey on uninformed consumers, nothing screams sleazy used car salesmen taking candy from babies than this and the gov should step in and stop it."

They don't prey on anybody. A commercial for some shitty ass candy can be "enticing to kids". That's the purpose, it's called marketing. "the government should step in and stop it", No these kids parents should step in and stop it if it's their credit card. If it's the kids own money then it's none of your (or the governments) business.

"The reason why we can all be in our little safe bubbles ranting on a video games website in our nice cushy homes with ALL the food we can eat in America is because of laws and regulations - as well as industry. The reason why we still engage in buying Real Estate, participate in banking, accept advertising, and all the other forms of commerce is because the government protects consumers from greedy assholes."

No, they don't lol. I don't have freedom of speech on a private website. I have been banned many times on this site. I'm all for good laws like property rights and real consumer protections. Loot boxes are none of these things.

"We need balance. Not the total absence of government. Private Industry cannot self regulate and preys on the uninformed - obviously. It's our civic duty as American Citizens to use legal methods to help protect fellow Citizens from harm."
Markets can and do regulate themselves. I'm not against an even playing field but the babysitting shit is laughable. Most people can make their own financial decisions. Yes use the legal method, not the mob marxist method. I encourage it, take these companies to court so i can laugh when the obvious result comes out. That's the point of my post.

supermonkeyfox60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

@2600 thunder
Couldn't of said it better.

@opinionated
Of course we need to protect the naive and innocent from these money grabbing assholes. If we need a few more laws to control this then so be it. We have more laws now than we have ever had in history and believe it or not, that's a good thing for people.

Also China now allows 2 children and what's wrong with that? We have a population problem. The government create laws to protect people from themselves alot of the time. If we carry on the way we are going, having more kids than we can afford, we are all fucked.

You think that people have a choice not to buy something and that we are all smart enough to make good decisions? Let me tell you, people make lousy decisions and at times ones detrimental to others. The government's laws (well most of them) are there to provide a fair framework for our species to thrive, to protect us from big business, greed and give us the opportunity to live a happy life, free from exploitation.

I'm just happy someone is doing something to stop these kinds of practices.

opinionated60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

@super monkey

“Of course we need to protect the naive and innocent from these money grabbing assholes. If we need a few more laws to control this then so be it. We have more laws now than we have ever had in history and believe it or not, that's a good thing for people.”

With what laws exactly? I don’t believe that at all lol. That more laws and regulations are good for a free people. It’s easy to say that but I doubt you could come up with a theory to support it. I can list many things the government has ruined with its meddling, its easy on my end.

“Also China now allows 2 children and what's wrong with that? We have a population problem. The government create laws to protect people from themselves alot of the time. If we carry on the way we are going, having more kids than we can afford, we are all fucked.”

I mean no disrespect, China can do whatever the hell it wants, it’s a sovereign nation. If you support the communist way of censorship, total regulation and invasion of privacy to protect you from yourself then that’s on you. You have to live there, not me. These kinds of things go against our basic rights as citizens in the west and I don’t support that. I support laws that tells the government it can’t do these things without probable cause. I support businesses protection from the government as well. I’m not a communist or fascist.

“You think that people have a choice not to buy something and that we are all smart enough to make good decisions? Let me tell you, people make lousy decisions and at times ones detrimental to others. The government's laws (well most of them) are there to provide a fair framework for our species to thrive, to protect us from big business, greed and give us the opportunity to live a happy life, free from exploitation.”

I think most are smart enough sure, if not you will learn from your mistakes. People do make lousy decisions but I’m an individualist and I have more faith in people I guess. I don’t think blaming phantoms (like loot boxes) and drowning people in more useless regulations are going to do anything. Free from exploitation? Is that what goes on in China? It’s the only place on earth then lol.

“I'm just happy someone is doing something to stop these kinds of practices”

Nobody is doing anything lol. They said “they were looking into it”. Not because “wow it’s so bad” but because every hack gaming journalist and their mother called gambling commissions asking if loot boxes were gambling lol. That’s the only reason, dumb colluders crying over a non-issue. I know what the results are though, not because I’m smart or clairvoyant but because it’s common sense. It’s ignorant people demonizing a legal business practice they hate, nothing more.

Cobra95159d ago

Thunder, thank you for your sacrifice.

I just recently mentioned legislation being the only way to curb the gratuitous gambling in full-priced games, because wallet voting can't compete with the sheer number of fools getting parted from their money (or their parents'). Someone's now at least inquiring into the possibility of government action, and that makes me smile.

Your post is spot-on. There needs to be balance. We don't want totalitarianism, but we also can't have the powerful elite in business run roughshod over the rest of us. They're not going to regulate anything lucrative of their own accord.

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equal_youth60d ago

Regarding your Post about the Stickers. It could also Happen that Games with lootboxes Will Always be 18+. Think about how that would affect Games.

opinionated60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

Highly unlikely though. They have to prove it's violating any gambling laws first, which it's not. Unless you want to change the criteria altogether just so you can get the end result you want. "social justice" or "moving the goal post" which is corny and scumbagish. Gambling regulation is to protect us from illegal practices by businesses. They aren't there to protect us from our own shitty habits.

I have thought about it and I think it's stupid, a non-issue. I think the ESRB is worthless. Let's say a government agrees with your premise and makes loot boxes an adult only feature regardless of it's gambling classification. This can go only one of two ways:

1: Publishers and platforms drop the content like they do now. Why do publishes drop content from their games to avoid an AO rating? Because retailers usually don't stock AO games on the shelf. The real question is if that's so much of an issue today. Brick and mortar is dying. You get 20% off and free shipping with Amazon or Best Buy online. Digital is also more popular today then when the shelf factor was relevant. 50/50 I believe.

or

2: Publishers and platforms become accepting of AO content. The bottom line is if it's worth it. Do they make enough money in MTs to embrace an AO title? Is the "shelf space" that important anymore? Would platforms like playstation change their policies and open up to AO titles just to avoid creating a console exclusive because of stupid regulation? There are many factors involved and I don't think it would play out the way you want it to, even if the "verdict" was in your favor. Who are we to tell some 16 year old with a full time job that they can't buy a lootbox? They're not mature enough to handle their own money? That's just being an asshole.

rocketpanda60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

You're the ignorant one. Nobody even said we want a Chinese type market. You are making assumptions to justify a point you're trying to make.

Remember this, by law the Chinese government requires any game that has a gatcha/loot system to show percentage of obtainable loot. Blizzard followed that regulation only to find a loophole and didn't follow that regulation. So, tell me how much better is the Western market than the Chinese?

opinionated60d ago

I didn’t make the China comment, I was quoting it. I didn’t assume anything, I repeated the logic. I did add communist to make a point.

You’re the one that doesn’t want a Chinese market. You tell me why the western markets aren’t better. Is that the only regulation they have in lootboxes? I don’t know china’s gambling laws but I doubt it. I just know they are communists and “it’s regulated in China” is a no shit Sherlock comment.

I have no issue with a company showing the odds of their loot. If that’s the only regulation you want then I agree. If you want to make it an AO feature classified as gambling then you’re either ignorant or dumb.

Many-hat559d ago

I understand you feel strongly about this issue, and so do the people who disagree with you. I don't think ridicule of others helps your cause. The need to call those who disagree with you 'ignorant' is a good place to start. While it's generally best if individuals look after themselves, there are times when everyone's interest can be best served through unity. It isn't always about what's best for YOU!

opinionated59d ago (Edited 59d ago )

I’m not ridiculing them. I’m not calling people dumb pieces of shit, I’m saying it’s ignorant. Ignorant just means you don’t know any better for one reason or another, maybe they just don’t care enough to come up with a rational conclusion. I don’t want “everyone’s interest served” when people who don’t know what they are talking have stupid interests that don’t make any sense.

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xtheblackparade60d ago

Hah, even though I don't think it's gambling I hope they will consider it to be gambling by law. Might deter devs from using systems like that.

Alexious60d ago

The second question actually raises a good point. Children have easy access to games despite 'Mature' labels and whatnot, and they could get addicted to this stuff.

Liqu1d60d ago

People like to claim it isn't gambling because there's no monetary prize but the exploitative mechanics of slot machines are used for loot boxes, that shouldn't be accessible to kids. Every game with loot boxes should be rated for adults only.

rainslacker60d ago (Edited 60d ago )

Same could be said about games in general. Should we regulate those more too?

Sounds like something Jack Thompson would say.

@theblackparade

It's not gambling when you will always get something of value out of it, unless that value is less than what was put into it. While an individual may not see the value in what they get, there is going to be a baseline value placed on such a thing by the publisher. There are those "everyone's a winner" type things, but often times the real market value of some of those prizes is less than the money put in, thus it is considered gambling, but the actual market value is what's considered.

@Liquid

Monetary prizes aren't a requirement for gambling. For instance, raffles are usually considered gambling, so places where gambling is illegal, a raffle can only be done under certain restrictions, usually involving charity or non-profit organizations....although a lot of times, small raffles for some things is overlooked despite being illegal.

@making them restricted to M rated games.

That seems silly. The purchases are supposed to be restricted to adults, or gaurdian consent. Children aren't supposed to have access to do it themselves without some adult agreeing to it. Obviously this isn't always followed, but it's supposed to.