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Let's talk about Loot Boxes


Harsin
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1 minute ago, sprite said:

 

Im not sure you can actually directly buy loot boxes in Apex can you?

 

You can only buy currency, which you choose to spend on whatever you want.  But yes, you can spend that currency on loot boxes.

 

What's the difference?

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4 hours ago, rafaqat said:

What really grinds my fucking gears is when the arseholes hide the true cost behind fake game currency.  There's no real reason to other than stop you thinking "fuck I'm paying £2 for this gun skin" or "I'm paying £8 for this season pass that lets me level up faster (to get more cosmetics)".   

 

This is fair for adults who can buy their own tat but doesn’t it sort of make sense for people buying digital stuff for kids? To buy them “in game credit”? I dunno...

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1 minute ago, sprite said:

 

I guess just needing to actively avoid spending the currency on a thing you can pick, to then go for the uncertainty of a box.  Do people do that? I dunno.

 

Yup. They do. I don't think there are many games that don't make you buy currency first.

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4 minutes ago, Flub said:

 

Yup. They do. I don't think there are many games that don't make you buy currency first.

 

Logistically it makes sense to have fewer items to hand money over for especially in games with hundreds of cosmetic items. 

 

WoW is the only one they quickly comes to mind that asks for actual cash money.  I guess as it has its own storefront.

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1 minute ago, sprite said:

 

Logistically it makes sense to have fewer items to hand money over for especially in games with hundreds of cosmetic items. 

 

WoW is the only one they quickly comes to mind that asks for actual cash money.  I guess as it has its own storefront.

 

I think the virtual currency thing is that it helps mask just how much a person is actually spending. And in a lot of cases you need to buy in amounts that don't match what you want to buy.

 

For example. A new ship in Star Trek Online costs 3000 zen. Here are the zen purchasing options. Cryptic for references do some hugely awful lockboxes too

 

 

Screenshot_2019-02-06 Billing - Arc.png

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57 minutes ago, sprite said:

 

This is fair for adults who can buy their own tat but doesn’t it sort of make sense for people buying digital stuff for kids? To buy them “in game credit”? I dunno...

 

I would much rather my kids knew straight off how much actual money they were spending when they ask for various things.  "It's only 300 v-bucks dad".   "It's only 800 v-bucks dad". 

I think if you turned round the said "sure thing, that's £20, do you want to spend your allowance on that" they'd think it through a little more.  I know mine now think a little more about stuff they buy because I put money in their accounts and they can see their balance going up and down. and withdraw money to buy stuff where they can.   Linking purchasing to actual money is important and there's a reason why credit card companies and banks try to make it as easy as possible for you without you having to handle cold hard cash.   

 

It's a deliberate ploy to obfuscate the actual amounts being spent. 

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2 minutes ago, MW_Jimmy said:

The second reason for the virtual currency is so that they have a shield for the gambling and claim that, the customer knew exactly what it was buying and that was 3,000 gold coins for £30 - and so that is all fair thankyouverymuch.

 

Yup. End of the day they're doing what I expect any company to do and that's make as much money as they can. 

As an adult (without a gambling problem)  I've generally given zero fucks about them. As a parent I've done my bit to educate my kids on this crap and hope they keep in mind what they're spending but I still feel like the balance is too much in the companies favour. 

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I don't mind virtual currency if it's implemented elsewhere - for example, if you earn a number of credits from in-game activities or levelling up, and then you can top that up with your real-life cash, that's fine as you need a uniform currency amount for all those things. Of course, it's additionally good that you can earn this currency in-game naturally too. 

 

But, more often that not, the in-game currency is onto applicable to real-life money you are putting. This is a massively con to mask the among your spending. In this case, companies should be forced to put it in monetary amounts so it's transparent to the consumer. 

 

Surely you wouldn't get away for this at, say, Sainsbury's, if you had to change your money in to Sainsbury Dollars at the store entrance and then go around doing your shopping, buying a loaf of bread for 1 Sainsbury's Dollar (which by the way is actually a tenner) or whatever nonsense these game companies have you doing. 

 

Didn't one of the AC games have about four in-game currencies at one point? Madness. 

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  • 3 months later...
On 06/02/2019 at 10:32, sprite said:

I'm not sure it's fair to fully lump Apex Legends into the loot box problem.  Yes, there are loot boxes in there which involves chance/the 'gambling' element, but you can also buy in-game currency to spend on whatever you want.  From what I've seen so far, every single item has its price, you can choose to spend £££ to buy the specific thing you actually want.

 

Plus after playing for a bit, I'd earned enough crafting materials to unlock a skin of my choosing anyway.  It's similar to Rainbow Six Siege IMO in how it's handling things.  Except it would have taken me far longer to get anything in Siege.

 

 

The free loot boxes drop off almost completely relatively early and then you’re left with nothing to unlock unless you spend money.

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I'd definitely include Apex Legends in the loot crate debate. Just because it's not as "bad" as some other games doesn't mean it's not still using the same tactics to try and get people to gamble.

 

 

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American senators gearing up to try to control loot boxes and pay to win:

 

https://www.polygon.com/2019/5/23/18637556/anti-loot-box-bill-microtransaction-ban-legal-analysis-esa

 

The game industry’s response, from the shit badge on games to this petulant statement about how the government just don’t understand, has been absolutely pathetic. I hope this decimates loot box revenue and destroys the whole model and anyone who is reliant on it.

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12 hours ago, Gambit said:

Polygon seems to have taken the pro loot box position? Not quite sure what this article is actually saying. Did sports games not exist before loot boxes? 

 

https://www.polygon.com/2019/6/1/18648907/anti-loot-box-law-congress-josh-hawley-senate-nba-2k-fifa-ultimate-team

 

I agree that it is not a great article, but I think the writer is trying to argue that the wording of the bill will make certain types of game unviable. That might not matter to you if you don't like those types of game, but it might do if you do like those types of game. 

 

I haven't read the wording of the bill, and I haven't played the types of game that he mentions (the 'ultimate team' style games), but I did work on a free to play collectible card game, and I think it would be a shame, for example, if that genre was effectively cancelled because of overzealous legislation designed to curb predatory pricing models in videogames. 

 

(The game I worked on is entirely free to play if that is the way you choose to play it; but also reliant on a subset of the player base spending money on card packs and cosmetic items in order to support those players who don't pay. I do not think that it featured predatory pricing techniques, but coming to a firm conclusion about that requires nuanced argument and might be difficult to legislate. For example, occasionally a card update would include an especially rare card that would grant users a free avatar skin. To me that doesn't strike me as predatory - it basically grants a cosmetic item, for free, to a randomly assigned subset of users. But I guess if you are somebody so desperate to get the free skin that you simply can't stop yourself from sinking a ton of cash into random card packs in the hope of getting it - because it features a beloved character, for example - then you might consider it to be predatory. I think there are a bunch of ways you could legislate this particular example: you could impose legally enforced spending limits; you could enforce certain distribution probabilities by law; you could just outlaw any sort of random assignment of cosmetic items; you could force developers to make any randomly available item also available for a fixed price; etc. etc. But all of these require a very deep understanding of play/pricing mechanics; and would probably require a very involved process of ongoing regulation; and you might still not be able to cover any eventuality that some ingeniously predatory developer or publisher might come up with somewhere. The game I worked on stated the distribution probabilities, by the way, and often made the avatar skins available in other ways. And I personally think this model is a very different matter to a publisher charging a large upfront fee, and then adjusting or handicapping the actual play experience in order to make more money from randomly dropped items.)

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1 hour ago, Tourist said:

 

I agree that it is not a great article, but I think the writer is trying to argue that the wording of the bill will make certain types of game unviable. That might not matter to you if you don't like those types of game, but it might do if you do like those types of game. 

 

I haven't read the wording of the bill, and I haven't played the types of game that he mentions (the 'ultimate team' style games), but I did work on a free to play collectible card game, and I think it would be a shame, for example, if that genre was effectively cancelled because of overzealous legislation designed to curb predatory pricing models in videogames. 

 

(The game I worked on is entirely free to play if that is the way you choose to play it; but also reliant on a subset of the player base spending money on card packs and cosmetic items in order to support those players who don't pay. I do not think that it featured predatory pricing techniques, but coming to a firm conclusion about that requires nuanced argument and might be difficult to legislate. For example, occasionally a card update would include an especially rare card that would grant users a free avatar skin. To me that doesn't strike me as predatory - it basically grants a cosmetic item, for free, to a randomly assigned subset of users. But I guess if you are somebody so desperate to get the free skin that you simply can't stop yourself from sinking a ton of cash into random card packs in the hope of getting it - because it features a beloved character, for example - then you might consider it to be predatory. I think there are a bunch of ways you could legislate this particular example: you could impose legally enforced spending limits; you could enforce certain distribution probabilities by law; you could just outlaw any sort of random assignment of cosmetic items; you could force developers to make any randomly available item also available for a fixed price; etc. etc. But all of these require a very deep understanding of play/pricing mechanics; and would probably require a very involved process of ongoing regulation; and you might still not be able to cover any eventuality that some ingeniously predatory developer or publisher might come up with somewhere. The game I worked on stated the distribution probabilities, by the way, and often made the avatar skins available in other ways. And I personally think this model is a very different matter to a publisher charging a large upfront fee, and then adjusting or handicapping the actual play experience in order to make more money from randomly dropped items.)

 

Your arguement is as good as I have read that is pro loot boxes. However, your ideas/solutions address the symptoms not the root cause. The root cause is the way that random outcomes manipulate the human brain in to making poor decisions. Things like making the drops also available to buy and publishing the odds of getting a certain item, do not address that fundamental psychological impact of random chance.

 

Whales are an interesting aspect of this arguement. I am certainly not against person X paying much more than person y, to support a project. I'm not convinced that removing loot boxes entirely will stop whales, but it may stop whales from existing where they only exist because of the psychological manipulation of loot boxes. I have friends who are retired, have lots of disposable income and are happy to support games in a bigger way than the average player. I wouldn't necessarily want to see that option taken away.

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12 minutes ago, BeeJay said:

 

Your arguement is as good as I have read that is pro loot boxes. However, your ideas/solutions address the symptoms not the root cause. The root cause is the way that random outcomes manipulate the human brain in to making poor decisions.

 

Well I think the other root cause is the desire of publishers and developers to manipulate this to maximise profits at the player's expense. 

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15 hours ago, Gambit said:

Polygon seems to have taken the pro loot box position? Not quite sure what this article is actually saying. Did sports games not exist before loot boxes? 

 

https://www.polygon.com/2019/6/1/18648907/anti-loot-box-law-congress-josh-hawley-senate-nba-2k-fifa-ultimate-team

 

 

Surely this:

Quote

it’s instructive that Take-Two agreed to a deal paying the NBA $1.1 billion over the next seven years. That’s double the value of the last deal, which was inked in 2011, well before Virtual Currency was introduced to MyCareer.

...is a circular argument. The licensing deal is that much more valuable because of Ultimate Team-style monetisation.

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14 minutes ago, Pob said:

Surely this:

...is a circular argument. The licensing deal is that much more valuable because of Ultimate Team-style monetisation.

 

This is quite an interesting point. Again, if you think that there is no inherent value in these games then yes, publishers are basically engaged in a form of arbitrage, weighing up development/marketing costs against revenue per player. Someone somewhere at Take-Two has done the maths and come to the conclusion that by paying $1.1 billion over the next seven years, they will make more money from players. 

 

But if you are a player who actually enjoys these types of game and your experience is enhanced by that NBA license, then EA are providing value for you. 

 

Personally I think certain types of game or even particular games have value for players - eg. CCGs; and others don't - eg. game of war. I don't know if that is hypocritical of me or not, but it is certainly difficult to legislate or police those grey areas. I guess it is like trying to police pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing schemes and just plain direct marketing schemes. They all belong to a spectrum but the distinction between different categories can sometimes get blurry.

 

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The argument for loot boxes is that they are, on some level, fun. I am one of those people who has no interest in cosmetics in games - for character creators I just hit random a few times. I never change from the default skin.

But even for me, when playing a game like Overwatch, I get a little thrill of excitement when I open a loot box. I look through the lists of the items I have collected for the characters, see the ones I haven't got yet, and kind of.. want them. I got a little buzz when I got some limited edition skin or other that people had been talking about online (ResetEra I think, where such behaviour is normalised) but I have to consider, if that skin was available from the start - I would not have even bothered to change to it. It was only its scarcity that made it worthwhile!

 

So I can only think there really must be some powerful voodoo going on. I can only imagine how it must hit problem gamblers.

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On 03/06/2019 at 09:32, Tourist said:

 

This is quite an interesting point. Again, if you think that there is no inherent value in these games then yes, publishers are basically engaged in a form of arbitrage, weighing up development/marketing costs against revenue per player. Someone somewhere at Take-Two has done the maths and come to the conclusion that by paying $1.1 billion over the next seven years, they will make more money from players. 

 

But if you are a player who actually enjoys these types of game and your experience is enhanced by that NBA license, then EA are providing value for you. 

 

Personally I think certain types of game or even particular games have value for players - eg. CCGs; and others don't - eg. game of war. I don't know if that is hypocritical of me or not, but it is certainly difficult to legislate or police those grey areas. I guess it is like trying to police pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing schemes and just plain direct marketing schemes. They all belong to a spectrum but the distinction between different categories can sometimes get blurry.

 

 

A big issue as well is that the games industry isn’t greedier than any other, but technology does mean it constantly has fresh new ways to exploit money out of people.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another excellent response that shows how seriously these companies are taking this.

 

Imagine if they legislated and it bankrupted EA. Maybe a fire sale like Take Two for all the amazing old properties they acquired and then did nothing with.

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