18 votes

A U.S. Senator is introducing legislation to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransations in "games played by minors."

6 comments

  1. Diet_Coke Link
    I think this is good. Loot boxes abuse the same neural pathways as slot machines, and they're essentially completely unregulated. The government already regulates other forms of gambling and loot...

    I think this is good. Loot boxes abuse the same neural pathways as slot machines, and they're essentially completely unregulated. The government already regulates other forms of gambling and loot boxes are far from essential to video games - in fact most users seem to hate them. I don't buy the slippery slope.

    5 votes
  2. [3]
    lionirdeadman Link
    I feel like this won't do much other than continue the trend of people buying games not suited for their age. It could potentially make companies reconsider their use though, I'm not sure. As for...

    I feel like this won't do much other than continue the trend of people buying games not suited for their age. It could potentially make companies reconsider their use though, I'm not sure.

    As for the fear that it gives the government control over video game content, well, content ratings and digital storefronts already discourage certain content so I'm not exactly worried.

    1. [2]
      alyaza Link Parent
      if it's anything like how the US government threatened to step in previously with regulating video games (which i doubt, honestly, but you never know) maybe we'll actually see the industry self...

      As for the fear that it gives the government control over video game content, well, content ratings and digital storefronts already discourage certain content so I'm not exactly worried.

      if it's anything like how the US government threatened to step in previously with regulating video games (which i doubt, honestly, but you never know) maybe we'll actually see the industry self regulating this sort of thing in the way they currently do with the ESRB. people seem to kinda forget that the ESRB doesn't have any formal power and is not a government agency, it's literally just a self-regulatory agency that everybody adheres to (and which nowadays has enough independent capital to basically impose its will how it sees fit regardless of what game studios might want) because the government basically threatened to do it for them if they refused, and video game companies weren't having that back in 1994.

      5 votes
      1. The_Fad (edited ) Link Parent
        The industry prefers it that way. It's the same way the MPAA is run; strictly speaking they have no regulatory authority to say what movies can and cannot do and no movie has any obligation to get...

        people kinda forget that the ESRB doesn't have any formal power and is not a government agency

        The industry prefers it that way. It's the same way the MPAA is run; strictly speaking they have no regulatory authority to say what movies can and cannot do and no movie has any obligation to get their film rated by the MPAA. Of course, theaters won't play your film if it's not MPAA rated, and they are notorious for withholding ratings until the last possible moment, so as a filmmaker or publisher, your choice is basically do it or no one sees your film.

        It's the oft-found grey area of compromise between those seeking regulation of an industry and those who hate regulation. Make it by default incredibly difficult to accomplish anything any other way, and you effectively guarantee regulation without government interference.

        3 votes
  3. nothis Link
    Now that things are getting real, I'm torn. On the one hand, loot boxes and the whole "out-smarting the brain" type of business models in F2P games are so deeply unethical and yet at the same time...

    Now that things are getting real, I'm torn. On the one hand, loot boxes and the whole "out-smarting the brain" type of business models in F2P games are so deeply unethical and yet at the same time so insanely profitable that I don't see a way out that doesn't involve government regulation. On the other, politicians fail at technology.

    I'm worried where this will lead. The weird, specific numbers in the proposal already sound stupid – it still allows for 50 loot boxes a day, how is that even a relevant limitation?!? Is this a ploy by F2P-game lobbyists to sneak through a pseudo-law that shuts up the critics but allows them to continue as before?

    Further, you already see subtle ways in which companies prepare for such legislation. I don't think Fortnite has loot boxes (though I'm a bit out of the loop)? The new thing is having a limited set of items for sale each day, with a ticking timer, informing you that they might be gone forever if you don't purchase them now! Also they don't need any of this, anyway, since we've long reached the point where in-game items are virtual status symbols you can get bullied over.

    The whole thing is a mess. It's just ridiculous that a virtual hat can cost $10. It's ridiculous that you can only buy packs of 800 virtual coins when items cost 300. I don't see an ethical way for F2P games to make money, really, they'll just go and come up with something just as bad that's "technically not loot boxes". What might help is a ban on virtual in-game currencies and reasonable monthly spending limits.