1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Welcome to Lake Valor!
    Catch, train, and evolve Pokémon while you explore our community. Make friends, and grow your collection.

    Login or Sign Up

Belgium's Trouble with Lootboxes

Discussion in 'Video Games' started by Absolute Zero, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Absolute Zero

    Absolute Zero The second seal

    Jeff
    (Spinarak)
    Level 19
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Posts:
    2,184
    PokéPoints:
    ₽2,869.8
    About a month ago, a friend of mine told me of some news shaking up the future of video gaming. Supposedly (and I say this as a non-Belgian and as a not-expert in law), the government of Belgium has decided that Lootboxes (random draws in video games in which you pay a set amount of real currency or virtual currency or effort-time for a chance at one of several random in-game gains) are a form of gambling that is directly targeted at children, and has thus decided that it is gambling for children, which is illegal in that country. Rather than fining the kids who are doing the activity in question (which would be silly in this situation), they've taken the approach of bringing this directly to the companies behind the gambling: no more lootboxes in any video games in our borders after this law takes effect.

    The thing is, at this point, it's up to each game developer to handle this on a game-by-game basis. Some games (like CS:GO) have restricted players in some jurisdictions from opening lootboxes. You can play the game, but this feature is gone. Others, like Final Fantasy DOO (which I play daily, screenshot below), made the following announcement: once this law takes effect, no more of this game for you. Thanks for playing this free game, thanks for whatever microtransactions you've paid, thanks for accepting it as us promoting our other products, but to all of our players in Belgium: goodbye, we hope you still give us money in the future.

    ----

    What is your opinion on this law? Has it directly impacted you yet? Even if you're outside of Belgium, how do you anticipate this will change video gaming globally once its ripples or waves reach your country? Is it a positive change, a negative change, or just the world moving?
     

    Attached Files:

    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  2. Swan

    Swan Tuber

    Caterpie
    (Caterpie)
    Level 5
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2018
    Posts:
    44
    PokéPoints:
    ₽12.0
    They're right, it is a form of gambling - there's threads on reddit of people that spend 10k a year on FUT coins (Fifa card pack currency), and honestly it's ruined the game as it's the only aspect of the game EA looks to improve yearly since it's the one that brings them the most money.

    I hope the rest of the world picks up on this and shuts down micro-transaction nonsense in gaming.
     
  3. Laserdragon14

    Laserdragon14 Dragon Maverick

    Falchion
    (Honedge)
    Level 22
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2018
    Posts:
    7,233
    PokéPoints:
    ₽1,429.1
    Flame Orb ★★★★★Luxury Ball ★★★Dragon Fang ★★★★Poké Ball ★Trainer Card - Cave Theme
    Personally, I don't mind loot boxes, card packs, etc as long as it doesn't make the game a pay-to-win type of game, meaning that the only way to get said boxes is to pay actual money. I see where they are coming from and I think that overall it is a positive change.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  4. ShinigamiMiroku

    Sorceress' Knight
    (Ralts ♂)
    Level 23
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2017
    Posts:
    2,067
    PokéPoints:
    ₽3,354.4
    Red Orb ★★★★★
    It definitely is, and should be illegal everywhere (and for everyone, if I may be blunt). And this goes for gacha games, as well. If someone wants to gamble, let them go to a bloody casino and drown their sorrows in liquor as they keep trying for that long-bet.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  5. Moonstruck-Mist

    HoverBoots
    (Shaymin (Sky))
    Level 35
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Posts:
    427
    PokéPoints:
    ₽544.9
    The banning of Lootboxes will most likely be a problem in the future. At least, that's what I believe. As of right now, my country doesn't seem to be following that just yet, nor do we seem to be following it any time soon. However, such payments (whether they be real or fake) will effect the community and companies who make these games. With less money, will companies stay open to make games for as long as they do? And as far as I'm aware, Belgium is quite a large country with a high population. Now, I'm no expert in statistics of companies, and I likely never will be, but I'm sure that things will start to slow, and eventually stop. And maybe things may fall, like opinions of the government? - but what do I know? I'm an American. All I say with this is things will likely start to go downhill, most likely the opinion in countries who decide to ban these things.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  6. Absolute Zero

    Absolute Zero The second seal

    Jeff
    (Spinarak)
    Level 19
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Posts:
    2,184
    PokéPoints:
    ₽2,869.8
    That's one of the things I'm worried about (not worried worried, but pondering): the paid lootpacks in otherwise free games keep the game free for everyone else. When you buy a loot pack or a costume or an upgrade, you're not only buying that thing for yourself: you're buying developer work-hours and support staff and server up-time for everyone. In my FFDOO example above, let's suppose that 10% of players bought any microtransactions ever: those 10% were buying all that staffing for the remaining 90% as well. They kept the game free for all Belgians (not on a direct Euro-to-Euro way, but in a Euro-to-Yen-to-MakingTheGameFinanciallyWorthwhileForSquareenixToContinue way), and now that that 10% is forbidden from giving Square Enix money in this format, there goes their reason for letting any of them play the game. Theoretically they could change to a subscription model, but that's less attractive than hooking players onto gambling on trying to finally get a bow at all for Serah or Maria.

    When I used to do customer support for an MMO, it's one of the reasons we hated players who did money glitches and cheats. The people who bought the microtransactions made my paycheck, the paychecks of my friends, the paychecks of the developers making the next free expansion and the server's electricity bill and the property taxes of the land our office was on and all of that. If we had no players buying microtransactions, the devs would be running solely on the one-time profit of the people who bought the game, and would have no ongoing financial intake. The only difference is that with us you knew exactly what you were getting: defined X amount of virtual money to spend exactly how you want instead of an X% chance of getting that weapon you want. It still kept me employed and able to buy groceries.

    As much as I hate the frustration of gambling on a lootbox (I still don't have enough bows, spears, and whips to equip everyone sub-optimally even in FFDOO) and how I never have and never will pay real money for a chance of getting a virtual thing, I wonder if this is a bad sign. A sign that free games, as new as they are, might be leaving soon. The developer has to make money to pay their staff and server costs. That's got to either come from lootboxes, in-game-money (which might be a harder sell), or advertising.
     
  7. Strytho

    Strytho Giveaway Enthusiast

    Xerneas Egg
    (Xerneas Egg)
    Level 8
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Posts:
    2,582
    PokéPoints:
    ₽498.9
    Friend Ball ★★★★Beast Ball ★★★★GS Ball ★★★★★Lure Ball ★★★★Basic Gary Oak ★
    I'm worried about the same thing zero. They could just make everything available for flat rates, but I've seen other games do that and costs skyrocket. imagine you wanted that perfect bow. How much in game currency would you have to spend to get it? How much real money would you have to put into it to get it faster? those numbers go down when you get it randomly in a loot box, but by how much depends on chance. The truth is that micro transactions can be a very good thing, but only if they are done correctly. I have put plenty of money into Pokémon go for incubators and other things, but only because I knew what I was getting when I paid the money.

    To the issue of gambling, yes it is gambling. So then why not put age restrictions on the boxes instead of getting rid of them? or using Belgium to test a whole new system to fix the issue entirely? Just a thought.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  8. Dawn

    Dawn La vie est drôle

    Cresselia
    (Cresselia)
    Level 1
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Posts:
    1,394
    PokéPoints:
    ₽1,128.7
    The problem with things like lootboxes is that they're greedy, plain and simple. It's all in the presentation - you have a microscopic chance of getting what you're after, no way of influencing the results, and there's no cap on these things. You can keep spending and spending, and will be enticed into doing so to get that one thing that you want. As others have said, it's gambling, and in this case gambling is especially bad when you can't guarantee your target audience are responsible adults. In a casino you can throw people out, or stop them from even coming in. You can't stop parents buying games for their children, and slapping an age-rating on it doesn't guarantee people under that age aren't going to play it.

    Really, I think they should introduce a price ceiling on the amount that you can spend on these things, and then reward you with consistently generating resources so that you no longer have to spend any real money to reap the rewards - the free to play version of Pokémon Rumble World did this, by allowing you to purchase something that would consistently generate the in-game Pokediamond currency for you...I think it cost around the price of full RRP. Failing that, only allowing people to spend a certain amount of money per day would help to control things, and monitoring account activity over time might even help to identify people who need help to control their spending habits.

    Similarly, for things like lootboxes and gacha systems, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - a game I hate for having an in-game gacha system but have to acknowledge for doing this - has a "pity system" where you are guaranteed a Rare Blade after you've opened a set number of core crystals and had nothing but common blades. Lootboxes could really benefit from something like this - guaranteeing you something rare and desirable in each one, rather than giving you miserably small percentage chances. That may entice people to spend more, but part of the issue with lootboxes is value for money: a lot of the time, you're not getting it. Hell, even physical trading card games offer this, with rare cards guaranteed in every pack...I know it's not QUITE the same as you're getting something physical that you can sell on, but why shouldn't it be the same in principle? A lot of MMOs have online boards where you can trade items for in-game currency or other items...this could work hand-in-hand with a lootbox system, as you could get rid of your unwanted items...and put them towards more lootboxes. These things should be available to purchase with in-game currency as well as real money.

    Whilst introducing value for money and a price ceiling doesn't change that gambling is gambling, I think it would show a little more awareness and responsibility, and wouldn't prompt governments to introduce laws banning them...or they could AT LEAST make a stronger case for their inclusion. The issue is not that they are being banned, it is that they aren't being utilised responsibly in video games, and frankly I would not be sorry to see video games that try and exploit their playerbase this way disappear for good. The free-to-play model is one that can work perfectly well and be profitable without having to reduce to this kind of base exploitation - not every F2P game has lootboxes, and I have yet to see a compelling argument for their being an essential in any game. Developers should EARN their paychecks by designing a thoughtful, valuable system that benefits and rewards the consumer for spending money, not by just taking them for a ride with low percentage chances.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  9. Absolute Zero

    Absolute Zero The second seal

    Jeff
    (Spinarak)
    Level 19
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Posts:
    2,184
    PokéPoints:
    ₽2,869.8
    To reiterate my own stance on this, I absolutely do consider this to be gambling. The only game I play that has lootboxes is the FFDOO I mentioned above, and in that the chances of getting gold weapons (which are better than silver in every way, so it's all you really want) is 1% or 0.5% (every char has two golds, and of course the better gets the 0.5% chance) chance for a given draw if it's featured that week, and 0.0102% (and shrinking) chance if it's not featured.

    So here's the thing: you can do 11 draws for 5000 "gems". I can't access the shop on my phone because of reasons, but I'm told one can buy 6000 gems for USD$36. There's a 1% chance of drawing a particular good weapon I want, it costs about 30 USD per attempt and it will probably take me about 5 draws... there goes $150, which is about my own annual gaming budget. Now, I'm a reasonable adult with a modest income, but if I'm a stupid un-informed child with access to someone's credit card (or an adult with a tendency toward a gambling problem), I could easily gamble away $400 of my parents' money trying to get good weapons for the three featured characters of the week. And there are 70 characters so far.

    So yeah, this is definitely a big problem for 99% of people. Now, the 1% (yes, I am also speaking about the economic American 1% here) it might not be a problem for. Super-rich parent gives you a four-figure weekly allowance, and you spend a quarter of that keeping the game free for a bunch of other people? I don't see the loss in that. Rich kid gets to have an enhanced video game experience, a bunch of other people play the video game free (if they can resist temptation). I can live with it.

    I suppose this part of my opinion may have been a rant on microtransactions in general, but I think my point of the goods and evils of this business model still apply. If you can keep a game free for most people by tricking a few rich people with no economic worries into paying hundreds of dollars for it, then that sounds like a net positive. But the evil of tempting kids into worthless purchases still exists without lootboxes: it's just slightly less luring to buy virtual money to spend as you want. But if even the rich and care-free are forbidden from paying money to keep the game free for everyone else (including those who would never ever pay anyway), then everyone might lose the free game, like my example.
     

Share This Page