PC & Video Games

Belgium's Gaming Commission Has Declared That Lootboxes Are Gambling

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  • Dec 16th, 2017 1:19 pm
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Belgium's Gaming Commission Has Declared That Lootboxes Are Gambling

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/arch ... ign=buffer
"The mixing of money and addiction is gambling," Belgium's gaming commission stated.

Belgium's Minister of Justice Koen Geens also took part in the announcement. "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child."

Belgium has said they wish to take this to Europe as a whole, which could be a big problem for game publishers who have been making lootboxes and microtransactions a core part of games. Redefining the games as gambling throughout all of Europe could, in theory, cost publishers millions of euros in fines, cause the games to be pulled from normal retail shelves, and generally strain their ability to sell in the region.
If other countries join in, it'll be a huge disruption to the video game industry as lootboxes and microtransactions are big revenue generating streams for AAA games like COD, Overwatch, BF, etc.
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Overwatch, Counterstrike etc. lootboxes are purely cosmetic items (skins, costumes, etc.) that do not affect gameplay.
CS:GO skins are sold on unofficial sites like csgostash.com and official ones like Steam Marketplace too.

In Battlefront II, it is used to unlock characters and items that would take a long time to unlock through playing the game by normal means.
Thus technically giving an advantage to players that pay to unlock the locked heroes and weapons a lot earlier.
Battlefront 2 also has a random lootbox system where you can obtain duplicates of things you already have, thus making it somewhat like gambling.

Things like Carnival games at the CNE are legal and can be played by people under 18.

Some are games of skill. I won a jumbo Pokemon plush through the plate breaking booth where you have to throw 3 consecutive balls and break 3 plates in a row.
It takes a total of 9 consecutive plate breaks in a row to win a jumbo prize which you can trade up to. Therefore someone would have to have an accurate throwing arm to win.

Then there are some carnival games are purely games of chance with no skill involved and some that are
highly rigged and nearly impossible with skill unless you know the unorthodox technique.


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Last edited by XFactor11 on Nov 22nd, 2017 11:49 am, edited 6 times in total.
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XFactor11 wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 11:49 am
Overwatch, Counterstrike etc. lootboxes are purely cosmetic items (skins, costumes, etc.) that do not affect gameplay.

In Battlefront II, it is used to unlock characters and items that would take a long time to unlock through playing the game by normal means.
Thus technically giving an advantage to players that pay to unlock the locked heroes and weapons a lot earlier.
Battlefront 2 also has a random lootbox system where you can obtain duplicates of things you already have, thus making it somewhat like gambling.

Things like Carnival games at the CNE are legal and can be played by people under 18.

Some are games of skill. I won a jumbo Pokemon plush through the plate breaking booth where you have to throw 3 consecutive balls and break 3 plates in a row.
It takes a total of 9 consecutive plate breaks in a row to win a jumbo prize which you can trade up to. Therefore someone would have to have an accurate throwing arm to win.

Some carnival games are games of chance with no skill involved and then there are some that are
highly rigged and nearly impossible with skill unless you know the unorthodox technique.


.
Cosmetic or P2W isn't really the issue. It's the fact that you are paying money to have a chance at winning something of value. Cosmetic items get a pass as it doesn't affect other players. P2W items don't because it affects everyone else who doesn't want to spend money. But that doesn't matter.... there's value to someone and that someone is paying money to have a chance at getting it.

Games with microtransactions and loot boxes, but only cosmetic gets them a pass by the general community, but it's still gambling. Some games are a little better in the sense they give free options at obtaining loot boxes and even some go further where you can even get in game currency for free to purchase directly what you want like Destiny 2 or COD:IW (I don't know about WWII).

Carnival games are in that grey area where under the guise of it taking skill to win the games. Not purely based on luck like slot machines or loot boxes. But much like Carnival games... and casinos, I don't think an out right ban on loot boxes is the answer, but they should be regulated. For example, you could do shady practices of making the odds really high for your first few purchases, but then slowly drop make the odds worse to squeeze every penny out of gamers. Or increase odds for certain streamers with big audiences, so they get much of the good loot to make it appear the odds are better than what they really are. Or once you get to the point where you have just 1 item missing from a complete set of cosmetic only armor.... except the game intentionally won't drop that Hunter Cloak no matter how many loot boxes you buy. Personally, I doubt it'll be banned, but I could see possible warning labels in the future.

I also don't want to see a ban. This is a huge extra revenue source for game devs. Without it, will see games chopped up even more in DLCs, not get bigger budget games, and general quality of games getting worse than they already are. The few "whales" that spend hundreds or thousands, I commend you for feeding into your addiction, so that my addiction remains reasonably cheap.
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Im not sure how I feel about this, Its a shame that microtransactions ruined a perfectly fine game in Star Wars battlefront II but I believe the market will determine that what they had done crossed a line. Id prefer not to see government regulations imposed here, ultimately when done right this is not something that will hurt people's enjoyment of the games and is huge stream of revenue for a number of games, I bet there is a bunch of developers out there with a game mid progress that are looking at this ruling in disappointment as the financial viability of there game might literally be determined by this ruling.

In the end how is this any different from any physical trading card, blind bag, surprise ball? IMO those are worse because in a lot of those cases they are targeting children.
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It's a lot harder for kids to grab their parents credit card and run out to the store to get packs of trading cards. I've never really understood that analogy. You can hide some purchases on a credit card monthly statement a lot easier than if you came home with the equivalent in trading card packs. That's why this stuff is a bit murkier, it's more nebulous and happens behind the scenes. Same thing with the Mobile IAP market. EA said the lack of microtransactions would not materially impact revenue so I think this stuff is just "gravy" to them anyway. I think if this gives a bunch of publishers pause then good. They should think twice about ruining their game with unnecessary nonsense that affects balance and comes off as very convoluted and frankly a bit scummy. I'm not going to have any empathy for them when they had a perfectly acceptable business model but were just trying to push the envelope for the sake of it. I'm the consumer, not a shareholder.

Should the government regulate this? I don't know. When things start impacting people on a societal level rather than an individual one then I believe that its appropriate for government to step in but I don't want to veer off into Off-Topic forum territory and I'm not sure that's the case yet here. I am focused on the microtransactions that affect balance because that affects everyone which is unfair when you've already paid the same amount of money for the base product. If they want to make a F2P game with microtransactions to support it then go ahead, at least then people know what they're getting. Putting a freemium model into a $60 paid game is BS.
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Redmask wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 3:57 pm
It's a lot harder for kids to grab their parents credit card and run out to the store to get packs of trading cards. I've never really understood that analogy. EA said the lack of microtransactions would not materially impact revenue so I think this stuff is just "gravy" to them anyway. I think if this gives a bunch of publishers pause then good. They should think twice about ruining their game with unnecessary nonsense that affects balance and comes off as very convoluted and frankly a bit scummy. I'm not going to have any empathy for them when they had a perfectly acceptable business model but were just trying to push the envelope for the sake of it. I'm the consumer, not a shareholder.

Should the government regulate this? I don't know. When things start impacting people on a societal level rather than an individual one then I believe that its appropriate for government to step in but I don't want to veer off into Off-Topic forum territory and I'm not sure that's the case yet here. I am focused on the microtransactions that affect balance because that affects everyone which is unfair when you've already paid the same amount of money for the base product. If they want to make a F2P game with microtransactions to support it then go ahead, at least then people know what they're getting. Putting a freemium model into a $60 paid game is BS.
I completely agree. The full price + micro transactions + DLC is triple dipping. Also I don't believe for a second what EA says about microtransactions. Let's see their earnings without FIFA microtransactions. Activision made more money with lower selling COD games like Ghosts compared to top selling ones like MW2/3, BO, etc, solely because of microtransactions. A part of me will be happy to see publishers get their hands slapped, but the other part of me fears what will happen to the gaming industry.
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Games are expensive to make but the market for them is significantly larger than it used to be and they can sell to multiple platforms now. Like you said they also get to double and triple dip now - expansion packs, deluxe editions, GOTY editions, DLC, season passes, remasters, microtransactions and the list goes on. Publishers are big money making machines and developers see very little of that revenue so the whole "but what about the little guy?!" debate is pointless. The little guy does just fine most of the time, ironically better on their own than when under a publisher. Path of Exile subsists entirely on cosmetic DLC for example. That's a real little guy operation. EA? Not a little guy and does just fine without the microtransactional revenue, by their own admission even!

For me the gambling stuff is scummy but when its cosmetics I can't really object to it. For the record I don't like it though, I think companies like Valve have taken it too far. But at least it's entirely optional and doesn't affect everyone else. When you start pulling crystal/star card nonsense with letting people buy buffs? That's just indefensible.
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Redmask wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 3:57 pm
It's a lot harder for kids to grab their parents credit card and run out to the store to get packs of trading cards. I've never really understood that analogy. You can hide some purchases on a credit card monthly statement a lot easier than if you came home with the equivalent in trading card packs.
There's also a secondary market in TCG's. Lots of people that play MTG only buy singles instead of packs, outside maybe pre-release events.
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divx wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 12:22 pm
i don't like loot boxes either, but i don't think they need to be banned
Absolutely loot boxes should be banned 100%. You say you don't even like loot boxes so how about an argument for why they SHOULD be included in games? Nobody is stopping game publishers from selling a gun or skin for $5 and the government wouldn't be able to do damn thing about it. People can buy those skins if they feel they want to support the company but as it is right now, people can spend thousands of dollars and never get that one Mercy skin all the while targeting children and people with addictive personalities.

Somebody calculated that it would take 4000+ hours just to go from level 3 to level 4 star cards. That's the same ridiculous level of grinding that was in For Honor and that game was dead within a month, 60 days max.
joeyjoejoe wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 2:30 pm
Cosmetic or P2W isn't really the issue. It's the fact that you are paying money to have a chance at winning something of value. Cosmetic items get a pass as it doesn't affect other players. P2W items don't because it affects everyone else who doesn't want to spend money. But that doesn't matter.... there's value to someone and that someone is paying money to have a chance at getting it.

Games with microtransactions and loot boxes, but only cosmetic gets them a pass by the general community, but it's still gambling. Some games are a little better in the sense they give free options at obtaining loot boxes and even some go further where you can even get in game currency for free to purchase directly what you want like Destiny 2 or COD:IW (I don't know about WWII).

Carnival games are in that grey area where under the guise of it taking skill to win the games. Not purely based on luck like slot machines or loot boxes. But much like Carnival games... and casinos, I don't think an out right ban on loot boxes is the answer, but they should be regulated. For example, you could do shady practices of making the odds really high for your first few purchases, but then slowly drop make the odds worse to squeeze every penny out of gamers. Or increase odds for certain streamers with big audiences, so they get much of the good loot to make it appear the odds are better than what they really are. Or once you get to the point where you have just 1 item missing from a complete set of cosmetic only armor.... except the game intentionally won't drop that Hunter Cloak no matter how many loot boxes you buy. Personally, I doubt it'll be banned, but I could see possible warning labels in the future.

I also don't want to see a ban. This is a huge extra revenue source for game devs. Without it, will see games chopped up even more in DLCs, not get bigger budget games, and general quality of games getting worse than they already are. The few "whales" that spend hundreds or thousands, I commend you for feeding into your addiction, so that my addiction remains reasonably cheap.
Even if loot boxes aren't outright banned. just getting a rated "M" on a game would be the kiss of death. SWBF2 is dead in the water. There is no way a game can recover from such a PR disaster. The funny thing is EA made over a Billion dollars with the first game. All they had to do was add a single player campaign and people were going to buy the sequel like gangbusters. EA painted themselves into a corner because their progression system is based on illegal gambling and they also announced no paid DLC. They are invariably going to abandon this game, cancel the free DLC while announcing staff layoffs to focus on their next game, Anthem.

Why do you feel that quality of games is going to get worse without loot crates? Why can't it get better? When was the last time a game with loot crates won GOTY? Look at The Witcher 3, BOTW, HZD.. they all had no microtransactions and one DLC. That was it and they all did very well financially. You are aware that developers, the people that actually poured their blood and sweat into making the game don't see a single dime from microtransactions right?

One game I'm hearing good things about right now is AC:O where the microtransactions are on a separate page and completely optional from the main game. Compare that to EA, the first thing you see when you load up one of their games is "BUY CREDITS NOW" like an obnoxious car salesman.
SpicYMchaggis wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 3:04 pm
Im not sure how I feel about this, Its a shame that microtransactions ruined a perfectly fine game in Star Wars battlefront II but I believe the market will determine that what they had done crossed a line. Id prefer not to see government regulations imposed here, ultimately when done right this is not something that will hurt people's enjoyment of the games and is huge stream of revenue for a number of games, I bet there is a bunch of developers out there with a game mid progress that are looking at this ruling in disappointment as the financial viability of there game might literally be determined by this ruling.

In the end how is this any different from any physical trading card, blind bag, surprise ball? IMO those are worse because in a lot of those cases they are targeting children.
This trading card analogy really needs to stop firstly because you are buying an actual physical product that you are free to trade and sell. Can you trade or sell the contents of a loot crate? Do you own anything? No? Ergo it's not the samething.
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Bryson wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 5:22 pm
Absolutely loot boxes should be banned 100%. You say you don't even like loot boxes so how about an argument for why they SHOULD be included in games? Nobody is stopping game publishers from selling a gun or skin for $5 and the government wouldn't be able to do damn thing about it. People can buy those skins if they feel they want to support the company but as it is right now, people can spend thousands of dollars and never get that one Mercy skin all the while targeting children and people with addictive personalities.

Somebody calculated that it would take 4000+ hours just to go from level 3 to level 4 star cards. That's the same ridiculous level of grinding that was in For Honor and that game was dead within a month, 60 days max.
loot box is not a new invention, it has been part of a lot of games mostly in asia for a decade, i played games before where you can buy loot boxes that would affect the game, essentially a p2w. I don't like p2w in principle, but some people do like them, and they should be feel to enjoy it.
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SpicYMchaggis wrote:
Nov 22nd, 2017 3:04 pm
In the end how is this any different from any physical trading card, blind bag, surprise ball? IMO those are worse because in a lot of those cases they are targeting children.
They're similar, but those things you can trade with friends if he has something you don't have. And children don't usually have money unless their parents give it to them, which I'm guessing will involve some sort of parental guidance (hopefully).

In general, I think it's all pretty messed up. They're pretty much pushing the greediness to see what they can get away with.
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Lootboxes are randomized in the sense that you are not guaranteed to get what you want to pay for
which is why they are controversial.


Microtransactions and pay to win transactions are nothing new at all.
Most of the top game apps on phones are pay to win or freemium, free to play with microtransactions.

Clash of Clans generates over $650,000 to 2 million dollars a day through microtransactions. Making it far more profitable than any
video game on consoles despite its low cost to develop and underwhelming visuals/gameplay.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/repor ... 0-6417656/
http://www.businessinsider.com/clash-of ... nue-2016-3

Clash of Clans
Candy Crush Saga
Pokemon GO, etc.
all have pay to win or pay to progress faster mechanics.

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