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Old 11/22/2017   #1
Claymore
Default The Ongoing Loot Box Drama

[Not sure whether this should be in Debates or not (as I never go in there, lol ) so Mods feel free to move this if it's more appropriate, but since it's quite a big piece of gaming news, I thought that it being here in this section would be best].


Unless you've been living under a rock, there has been a shitstorm of controversy regarding the inclusion - or rather, the exact implementation - of Loot Boxes within big AAA games and the videogame industry as a whole.

This has been going on for quite some time, however events have come to a head recently when the UK Government was forced to respond to a petition about Loot Boxes in gaming, the Belgium Government began to look into Loot Boxes as gambling, and of course, the massive storm of controversy regarding Battlefront II.

If you haven't been following the news regarding Battlefront II, then you will not be aware that the implementation of Loot Boxes within it has not gone down well with fans at all. After a massive backlash, EA have attempted to modify the situations several times, changing the exact contents of the Loot Boxes, the credits received ingame, and turning off Microtransactions at launch. But gamer fury has hit the game, the company, and it's launch (at least, physical copies) were down then on the previous installment.

Not only that, but this storm by gamers has managed to push the situation further into the spotlight, getting traction on BBC News, CNN, and other media outlets. The entire concept of Loot Boxes has been put under a spotlight like never before.

And now, the Belgium Government has declared that Loot Boxes ARE gambling and will pursue banning their inclusion within Europe.

This is obviously a huge turning point in events, and what might happen to Loot Boxes within videogames.

So, what are your thoughts about Loot Boxes themselves? Do you actually see them as a form of gambling? Do you not mind them being implemented within videogames? Or do you perceive them as more akin to trading cards and stickers? And what impact do you think this could have on gaming as a whole? Could we see developers trying to charge European gamers a higher base game price? Steeper microtransactions? ....
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Old 11/22/2017   #2
Literally Who?
Default

YouTube Video


This has been a long time coming, I really hope something gets done in this area of gaming.
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Old 11/22/2017   #3
LicoriceAllsorts
Default

As far as I know, because I don't really follow gaming news, loot boxes are indicative of a trend in gaming to sell the initial game as incomplete or basic and then continue to 'milk the cow' by releasing all sorts of additional material for purchase. The final cost of a complete game can be many times higher than the sticker price on the basic release. This is a really old sale model - Dickens' novels used to be released chapter by chapter on a weekly basis. As far as I understand it, the loot boxes are a gamble because you don't know up front what you're paying for. You might get something valuable or you might get crap. I'm kind of torn about this, because I don't object to it in principle, but I don't want this model taking over video games completely, and it's really, really annoying to parents who are paying for their children's games (young children, I mean, not adults living at home, who should pay for their own gaming). It's especially annoying when you just have no idea at the start how big a financial commitment you are making when you buy a game.
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Old 11/22/2017   #4
Lucis Caelum
Default

Claymore wrote: So, what are your thoughts about Loot Boxes themselves? Do you actually see them as a form of gambling?
My stance is that I don't see them as such, (for me) gambling involves an individual putting something of value (be it money or something else) at stakes in a "game" where said individual has chances of gaining something or gaining nothing at all (and losing what they put at stake), this is what separates loot boxes from gambling, with lootboxes you are guarantee to gain something (even if what you got was undesired).
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Old 11/22/2017   #5
ForceStealer
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Legally, no. Effectively? Yes, they are basically gambling.

My biggest problem with them, though, is that spending real money can't get you the thing you want. You can only buy the CHANCE to get it. That is unadulterated bullshit. In the case of "cosmetics," this is how the progression has gone: Once upon a time, alternate outfits were things you unlocked within a game by playing it and finding them or buying them in-game. Then outfits were taken out of the game and you had to buy them as DLC. Kind of annoying but honestly it only bothered me if they were overpriced. Now you can never intentionally get what you want. Only the chance. If I'm going to drop real money, I should be allowed to just buy the damn thing I want. Especially for something as meaningless as an outfit in a video game. I'm not going to pay you for the chance, that's damned insulting.
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Old 11/22/2017   #6
Addy Carver
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Gonna say something controversial: I object to DLC unless it's a bona fide game expansion that will provide increased longevity. Anything else is dick-shaking and squeezing that cash cow's teats raw.
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Old 11/22/2017   #7
X-SOLDIER
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Content DLC came about to combat the used games industry, because the game stores were making money on games, that were sapping funds from the actual development teams. DLC as a model to bring more from a game by securing additional funding from selling a game, and also maintaining it with patches is something I actually really like.

I was watching a video by Maximilian Dood, where he talks about the fact that Fighting Games never used to get balance patches, and everything would just be fixed or altered in a sequel, which is what led to the Street Fighter 3 Alpha X Ultra Whombocobmo Omega type thing with fighting game releases.

Allowing a game to grow, and provide more to it's audience as a result of success is actually pretty awesome, imo.

Loot boxes are another issue entirely. If they're for cosmetic-only items, but you can also earn in-game ways to obtain them with relative ease, I'm pretty much fine with them. If they could be swapped out by a more logical progression or crafting system being in the game, then I'll probably be mildly annoyed by them. If they affect core gameplay, especially for multiplayer, then I'm not a fan. Either way, the fact that they're exploitive to people with completionist / gambling addictions is really uncomfortable, and I'm glad that there's a lot more coming out about this, so that hopefully we can do away with this model before it continues to creep into more modern games.




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Old 11/22/2017   #8
ForceStealer
Default

^It's also exceedingly stupid in any single player game.
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ultima espio wrote: I'm not sure if it was a BOMB, it could have been MAKO, KING, BEST, or ORBS.
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Old 11/22/2017   #9
Obsidian Fire
Default

It's gambling, especially when you take the drop rates of items into account. Even more so when the items actually do have a stat effect on the game. And in a game that's already a full priced game? Why did EA think people were going to be okay with this?

That said, implementation is everything. In FTP games, a system like this makes a lot of sense. Even better if the items in the Loot Box can be bought normally in a Cash Shop of sorts. Then the game is giving players the choice of gambling or not. When gambling is the only way to get something, then it looses it's feeling of fun. The best is when what's the Loot Box has no actual effect on gameplay mechanics.
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Old 11/22/2017   #10
ForceStealer
Default

Obsidian Fire wrote: The best is when what's the Loot Box has no actual effect on gameplay mechanics does not exist.
Fixxxed.

But yes, they're fine in a free to play game, because that's the tacit understanding that you're playing a game without paying for it. So obviously these things are the price of entry. In a full price game...


And don't come at me with this "games cost more to make now" crap. Then raise the price and let me access components of the damn game and not be forced to gamble for them.
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ultima espio wrote: I'm not sure if it was a BOMB, it could have been MAKO, KING, BEST, or ORBS.
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Old 11/22/2017   #11
Lex
Default

The state we find the industry in right now re: this issue is horrific. Games are now being actively developed around the implementation of these microtransaction lootboxes.

When it comes to single-player DLC I often point to the DLC produced by Bioware for Mass Effect and Dragon Age as the perfect example of "acceptable" for DLC. With a few notable exceptions, they've been 4-12 hour experiences that expand upon the lore of the games they're attached to without feeling like something has actively been removed from the game (this is an EA company, so we do have examples like Javik as evidence of the opposite of what I've just said). It's just that in terms of pricing the vast majority of what they've released as DLC has been about £10 per item, but well worth it.

My first brush with lootboxes came from Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but I didn't have an issue with it then because you could quite easily earn in-game credits and - very importantly - ME3 multi is co-op only, so lucking out with weapons and getting an edge on other players is essentially meaningless.

However what we've seen happen around that and since are companies looking at sales of content and banking on things like nostalgia or addiction to earn money. Focus testing to discover what players really like and want so that they can remove it from the reach of a player who has paid full price (and games are not fucking cheap at launch) and dangle a chance to get it to squeeze the cash from vulnerable or desperate players. It's corporate business at its absolute worst.

The issue that we face is companies like EA look at profit margins and apply practices from whatever is making the most money to all of their products. The other issue is that people are actually spending that money on those lootboxes. The average consumer does bear some small part of the blame, and I feel a niggling rage at people who do this and therefore help to perpetuate the practice, but then I remember the vast majority of them are likely schoolkids who are desperate to have that cool item their friend has and has been bragging about, so they roll the dice until they get it.

In some cases they've just tacked microtransactions on - one recent example is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (published by SE) where you can buy Praxis Kits for real money even though you can max everything without touching them. This kind of thing is still icky but I don't think it's nearly as bad as the lootbox scenario we are all facing in some of our favourite franchises these days. The game was incredibly well balanced from a progression perspective. Ironically Deus Ex under SE has produced some of the best single player DLC content aswell.

The bottom line is that it's a shady business practice and I hope some of these rulings put a stop to it. I don't have an issue with cosmetic items as paid DLC (such as outfits for characters), but conditions need to be met for that to be morally acceptable to me and they rarely are.

Perhaps the worst part about this is that it's totally a publisher thing. Developers do not set out and pour their blood, sweat and tears into a project for this to be the outcome, pressure and demand from the publishers wedge this shit in and drive their hard work into the shitter.
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Old 11/22/2017   #12
Lex
Default

lol Jim chimes in, this was posted just as I started writing my previous post so I shall enjoy watching this:

YouTube Video


EDIT: Actually, this video was posted a week ago and is also topical:

YouTube Video
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Old 11/22/2017   #13
Dawnbreaker
Default

I have "VIP" in the MMORPG Neverwinter and I agree this is all absolute shit.

VIP grants me a daily key to a loot box and I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of the time I get crap. It was better about a year ago, but the company became greedy and now I get stuff I can't even sell or use (in-game) half the time. I end up giving the stuff away or even discarding it. The rest of the stuff I get is only moderately useful. I've gotten the "great" items only twice. :/

(If you're wondering why I still have VIP it's mostly so I can fast travel, since my time online is limited.)

I think the loot boxes should be done away with. Since these boxes can be artificially-controlled you can be sure that the loot rolls are fixed. What are the odds? One in a million? And even then it preys on the desperation of players who just want to be on an equal footing with their peers. Nothing good comes of it, except massive profits supporting corrupt companies.

As for buying items that can be used to influence in-game mechanics (e.g. a weapon that makes you stronger), I have mixed feelings on that. Having to farm something for literal months when you have limited time can make such an option appealing, but at the same time, it makes the game a pay-to-win, which is detestable. You end up with a bunch of players with high-end gear who don't even know how to play the game. It makes PVP a fucking nightmare.

Now having DLC or outfits, etc. is something I have a lot less issue with. Some people prefer basics in a game and don't want a large upfront investment for something they might find frivolous. Others want all the bells and whistles. Restricting that and lumping everyone into the same bracket might be unfair. After all, I found the DLC for Skyrim quite satisfying but I know people who didn't want to pay for it, since they felt they'd gotten enough of that game (and that game is HUGE).

When it's all said and done, it's mostly on the backs of the corporations who are taking advantage of player desperation, but the buying players hold culpability, too. I'm not sure what the complete solution is here, but I definitely agree it's gotten out of hand.
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Last edited by Dawnbreaker; 11/22/2017 at 06:18 PM. Reason: added missing words
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Old 11/22/2017   #14
Obsidian Fire
Default

^^I think the best point that this is a recent thing is that there's more games with loot boxes put out this year then in the last oh... 10 years since TF2 was put out which was arguably one of the first games to have it.

As someone who does computer programing, I'm pretty mistrustful of anything that supposed to be "random" and is electronic in nature. There is no such thing as a random number generator so I fully expect that none of the loot boxes are really random.
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Old 11/22/2017   #15
Dawnbreaker
Default

^yes, my husband said the same thing. So how is this even fair? If the company wants to curtail prize-winning to inspire an increase in real-money spending, all they have to do is release a patch that cuts down the loot drops. The investment immediately decreases without any consultation with the players. Players just suddenly realize they don't get the good loot anymore, or as often.

This is the same with electronics devices at the gambling casinos (VLTs, IIRC). This is why I play roulette or black jack -- at least I have some small influence and/or the game is at least a little random-er. If the companies really want to get greedy they can make the loot drops less than a percent, although gamers might catch on after a while.
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"You can do everything right and still lose. That is not weakness; that is Life." Jean-Luc Picard / Patrick Stewart

"It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people." Martin Luthar King Jr.

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