The Dark Side Of Letting Politicians Regulate Games Like Star Wars Battlefront 2

With all the controversy that Star Wars Battlefront 2 stirred up, it was only a matter of time before the powers that be took notice. Sure enough, Belgium launched an investigation into games like Battlefront 2 and Overwatch regarding their implementation of loot boxes with the Belgian Minister of Justice, Koen Greens, stating that he believes that loot boxes are essentially a new form of gambling that targets children.

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frayed385d ago

Good to read some interesting perspectives coming out on this topic. Hate is useful, to a point. But we do have to engage in conversation at some point about want we do want, rather than simply stating what we don't want.

With the turn to populism that we have seen in politics recently, it's quite right we should be worried about governments with agendas exercising powers over entertainment media. Remember how people like to blame violence on videogames? Watch games being banned/ censored as a scapegoat for gun violence/ race violence/ terrorism/ whatever. Sounds crazy, but you bet some people would love to take the attention away from firearms regulation by arguing that videogames are the real problem.

What I want is for developers and publishers to find fair and interesting ways of monetising their games in order to provide the best possible experience for gamers. If they do it right, their games will be popular and they will make money - win, win - these things shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

WelkinCole385d ago

Well for me at least I welcome govt regulations that is about making sure corporations play fair and not screw over consumers. What I see here is exactly that and not censorship or limiting freedom of speech or artistic expression.

frayed384d ago

I'm not opposed to regulations to trading standards. But media censorship is a different thing entirely and I'm just pointing out that gamers should be careful that populist movements such as the anti-MT movement doesn't accidentally allow itself to get hijacked by the crowd that wants to control the content of creative media for socal reasons.

EjWarrior384d ago

you mean like the government screw all of us every day? pay your tax or go to jail

UCForce384d ago

I get it that you are scared about this, but like I said major publishers like EA are so greedy,careless and selfish. It’s got so bad that caught government attention.

rainslacker384d ago

I think the discussion about what we want, as well as what we don't want, has been going on for quite some time. Since last gen actually.

But since the publishers didn't listen, and kept pushing things further and further, we are now at this point where legislators are looking at how to handle the concept of loot boxes, which will extend to any random prize system that is acquired through money.

What sucks most is that for something to actually happen, and for publishers to start paying attention to their customers, it took government intervention. While there are some slippery slopes that come with it, as of right now, they're just looking at what loot boxes are, and if they need to be regulated within gaming. That doesn't mean the entire gaming industry and it's content is going to be regulated. If it does, then I'll actually have things to say about keeping regulation out of gaming.

DillyDilly385d ago

They should investigate Shadow Of War

Cy385d ago

Great and much needed perspective. Expansion of government power is never a good thing in the long run. Especially when it inserts itself into private business.

LightofDarkness385d ago

Based on what evidence? Free unregulated markets have almost exclusively ended in exploitative behaviour and anticompetitive practices. This is typically libertarian rhetoric that seems to be predicated on us still living in a bygone era that never actually existed.

Summons75385d ago

So you would rather developers and publishers like EA put large chunks of games behind pay 2 win paywalls and the content you want coming down to a very low odds gambling box? It speaks volumes about how bad loot boxes are for the industry if they get the attention of old world politicians who at every moment blame video games for every little bad thing in this world.

Tru_Blu385d ago

Thing is you have to realize you've been duped, we don't live in a democracy. It's an Oligarchy, the few powerful top executives from a handful of corporations are the ones that really run the country. Call me a conspiracy nut all you want but the evidence speaks for itself.

rainslacker384d ago

Except in this case it's not actually an extension of their power, it's them classifying something that they already have control over. That's the whole thing here that people are missing. They aren't looking at regulating loot boxes, they're looking at classifying them. If they're classified as gambling, then companies will be required to abide by regional laws concerning gambling.

This isn't the same situation as the whole violence in games is bad from way back when. Back then, it was about if the content was appropriate, and if the government should censor that content.

It's not to say that the governments can't reclassify things to gain some control of something, but in this case, it seems more about protecting constituents. I don't see how it could be based on any kind of corrupt political power, because the removal of something like this actually means taking potential taxes away from them, and I can't see any lobbying money being spent to have them removed....quite the opposite really, as publishers would be more likely to lobby to be left alone.

frayed383d ago

I completely agree that we should , in most cases, feel comfortable allowing classification systems to do their job to protect constituents. To be honest, I'm generally pro regulation/ oversight on consumer/ trading standards and don't believe that political power is necessarily corrupt. But I do think that anger and hate turn very quickly into frenzy, creating knee-jerk reactions and unbalanced pressure on the system.

Unfortunately, and ironically, we've seen how easy it is to 'game' the political system with a 'my voice is louder than yours' approach that seeks to shut down the other side rather than start a conversation. I'm just concerned that, in this case, precedents could be set that, if enough 'anger' is generated, then changes to classifications/ regs. could follow. This skips or shortens the 'debate' and often any real intellectual argument in the process. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with gambling in gaming being a bit more stringently prohibited in games aimed at minors, but 'censorship' can be insidious. There are a lot of people out there who would find violence, sex, religious subjects taboo and who's to say we would never run into territory where your DOOMs, Mass Effects and Modern Warfares face issues of 'hate speech' or whatever other minor social law could be twisted for the purpose of shutting up certain views.

Now, I don't really believe this is a very real threat in the UK, for example, but I think there may be an issue around the classifications of games as 'art and entertainment' or 'gaming/ gambling'. Perhaps the system will be flexible and intelligent enough to deal with this dichotomy, perhaps it won't.

Ultimately, it's about being aware and engaged with the process. Shouting loudly is step one, perhaps, but the rest of the way is more precarious and requires more thought. I used to trust that people/politics had their heads screwed on... but recent years have made me a bit more wary.

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LoveSpuds385d ago (Edited 385d ago )

I often hear people stating they don't want their government regulating this kind of matter, that self regulation is preferable. I believe this perspective was taken in a recent Kindafunny podcast I listened too with Greg Miller and Andrea Rene.

My issue with that standpoint is that it just doesn't work. We only enjoy protection from all sorts of dangerous, questionable and often criminal business practices from all industry sectors because of rules and regulations brought in by an act of government. Whether is food regulations, hygiene regulation, maintenance regulations for transport or gambling regulations....the list is endless, but without those regulations history has proven that business cannot be trusted not to abuse their consumer base.

People who honestly think that publishers like EA and Activision will treat the consumer with respect and not exploit them in any way possible are kidding themselves.

PapaBop385d ago (Edited 385d ago )

Honestly, I think it's a sad sorry state of affairs when many of us actually do want the Government to step in. EA have been running rampant with their practices for far too long and sadly it's got to the point where we do need Government intervention.

Honestly I've been desensitised to the ingame loot stuff to an extent but when you take a proper look at it, you realise just how bad it really is. Everything from the slowness of the opening to build anticipation to the special little sounds you get for getting the rarest of things, these aren't neat little touches but a form of psychological manipulation and EA are by far the worst for these practices, Battlefront 2 and Fifa being prime examples.

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