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posted by martyb on Thursday May 03 2018, @08:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the It's-always-been-about-the-money. dept.

I've shunned all games that include loot boxes, pay-to-win, etc. for quite some time. It used to be that just meant not playing mobile games or the few MMORPGS (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) that consumed your life. I have recently taken to playing Gwent and Hearthstone some, but I've about given up on Hearthstone. There is some interesting content to be sure, but Hearthstone more so than Gwent seems to be very much pay-to-win. I've spent a grand total of $5 on the starter pack for Gwent, because after 10-20 hours worth of play I found I was having quite a bit of fun. I can actually win games against other people in Gwent. As for Hearthstone — it seems that no matter how I play there was no way I was going to win, because I don't have good enough cards.

With the massive user base of mobile platforms, it's not hard to believe that there's a lot of money rolling around. I just wish that mobile gaming wasn't by and large like playing in a Casino. Except, with mobile gaming, there's no chance of a payout.

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/05/mobile-platforms-now-account-for-more-than-half-of-all-game-spending
https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/05/despite-backlash-loot-boxes-could-be-essential-to-gamings-future


Original Submission

Related Stories

U.S. Federal Trade Commission Will Investigate Video Game "Loot Boxes" 24 comments

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Pledges to Investigate Video Game Loot Boxes

Federal Trade Commission chairman Joseph Simons on Tuesday said he would investigate video game loot boxes to ensure that children are being protected and parents are educated on the matter.

Simons testified Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security about the commission's work. Following his testimony, a number of senators asked Simons questions on an array of topics.

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who brought up the issue of loot boxes in video games earlier this year, asked the FTC to launch the investigation and Simons confirmed he would.

The request comes about nine months after Hassan sent a letter to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board asking for the group to review the ratings process as it relates to loot boxes, examine the marketing of loot boxes to children, and put together best practices for developers around the toxic form of microtransactions. The senator also asked the board to conduct a study that further delves into the reach and impact of loot boxes in games. At the time, she said if they didn't take sufficient action she would ask the FTC to get involved.

"In video games, a loot box (sometimes loot crate or prize crate, among other names) is a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive a randomized selection of further virtual items, ranging from simple customization options for a player's avatar or character, to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armor. A loot box is typically a form of monetization, with players either buying the boxes directly or receiving the boxes during play and later buying "keys" with which to redeem them."

Related: Belgium Moving to Ban "Loot Boxes" Throughout Europe, Hawaii Could Restrict Sale to Minors
Are Loot Boxes in Games a Violation of Gambling Laws?
Video Game Loot Boxes are now Considered Criminal Gambling in Belgium
Mobile Gaming is Dominant in the Marketplace / Blame Loot Boxes


Original Submission

Nubia Adds an Internal Fan to a "Gaming Smartphone" 10 comments

This gaming phone has a built-in cooling fan and can record 8K video

We've already seen the likes of ASUS and Black Shark offering external cooling fans for their gaming smartphones, but the folks over at Nubia reckon it's about time to stuff a fan inside a phone (I mean, what else would you expect from a company that brought back the wearable phone?). Today, the Chinese brand unveiled the Red Magic 3 which not only packs a "liquid cooling" copper heat pipe, but also an internal cooling fan.

This small fan is said to run quietly but can spin up to 14,000 rpm, and it has an IP55 rating plus its own isolated chamber, so you won't have to worry about liquids and dust getting in. It's apparently good for over 30,000 hours of continuous use, though Nubia didn't specify the speed used for the test. Regardless, combining this fan with the heat pipe, the phone's heat transfer performance is apparently five times better than conventional passive cooling methods, thus ensuring a smooth gaming experience for a longer period.

Also at Android Authority.

Related: Mobile Gaming is Dominant in the Marketplace / Blame Loot Boxes
Nubia's Wearable Smartphone is a Preview of our Flexible OLED Future
Xiaomi Announces Smartphones with 10 GB of RAM
Nubia X Smartphone Ditches Front-Facing Camera, Adds Rear Display


Original Submission

Senator to Introduce Bill to Ban Loot Boxes 14 comments

Senator Josh Hawley's press team announced yesterday "The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act" which is soon to be introduced to the United States Senate.

a bill that would ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in "games played by minors," a broad label that the senator says will include both games designed for kids under 18 and games "whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions."

The game 'Candy Crush' was cited as an "egregious" example of pay-to-win with things like it's $150 "Luscious Bundle".

"When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn't be allowed to monetize addiction," Hawley said in a press release. "And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences."

Likely any such legislation would have knock-on effects throughout the gaming (and mobile gaming) markets affecting the gaming experience for non-minor players as well.

The Entertainment Software Association responded quickly stating that

"Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents' hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls."

With an acronym like PCAGA the bill may struggle to gain traction. Maybe we can come up with something better?

Previously: Belgium Moving to Ban "Loot Boxes" Throughout Europe, Hawaii Could Restrict Sale to Minors, Are Loot Boxes in Games a Violation of Gambling Laws?, Video Game Loot Boxes are now Considered Criminal Gambling in Belgium, Mobile Gaming is Dominant in the Marketplace / Blame Loot Boxes, U.S. Federal Trade Commission Will Investigate Video Game "Loot Boxes"


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03 2018, @11:38AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03 2018, @11:38AM (#675005)

    It's just... hey, I played a game and didn't like it, and I can't even ask for my money back because it was free!

    Anyway, most of these examples are really completely different things.

    There are Farmville style games where the core mechanic is waiting in line, and you can pay to skip the line. This is not actually even a game. It's more like a fish tank, where you have to pay money to tap on the side of it and watch the fish swim around.

    Pay to win games can be more or less evil. Hearthstone is probably the least evil pay-to-win game that I know of. Constructed mode can be expensive if you don't want to be a punching bag, but single player is 100% free, most tavern brawls (not the current one, but most) are free and all players are usually equal. Everyone is equal in Arena, and your skill determines how much you pay (if you are good enough, you never have to pay). And there's no special real-money-only "premium currency." This is pretty generous for a free to play game.

    In the middle you've got stuff like World of Tanks, which are mostly skill based but you can pay money to gain an advantage, but at least there's no random factor.

    Mobile games like Clash of Clams are on the more evil side, since your only real choice is pay to win, there's not really a meaningful skill-based or free option, but at least you know what you're getting into.

    Then you have the Candy Crush style pay-to-win games, where your choices are lose for ages until you get lucky or pay to win (and you still might get unlucky and lose). They're easy at first, skill-based after a while, and only later do you have to start paying to win. This is pretty much distilled evil in the form of a game, like a slot machine where you never get paid, just the option to move to a tighter slot machine. But they can be amusing for a while as long as you quit when they switch from skill-based to money-based.

    Most loot boxes are pretty much just trophies. When they have actually impacted gameplay (Battlefront) there's been a huge backlash. In Overwatch, you can just completely ignore them if you don't want to spend money. Sure, they'll try to lull you into wanting to spend money, but you aren't disadvantaged if you don't. So don't.

    MMORPGs are usually a flat monthly fee, although some like Eve allow you to bend that a bit. There is no pay-to-win aspect to these at all. Don't enjoy them? Don't play them.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by nobu_the_bard on Thursday May 03 2018, @12:17PM (4 children)

      by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Thursday May 03 2018, @12:17PM (#675012)

      I generally agree with you, however-

      Many MMORPGs over the years have had random drops to some degree.

      A somewhat typical made-up example - you spend 30 minutes to finish a raid boss with 15 other players, and there's maybe 16 reward items, which you need to roll for priority on picking which you get. You might not get what you want. You may need to trade what you do get with another player who got what you wanted, or keep doing the raid until you get what you want. You might get lucky and get what you wanted on the first attempt, or might need 10 attempts. A lot of people interpret this as a similar "loot box" mechanic.

      There's a lot of mitigating factors these days though. Often times MMOs only do this kind of stuff for the bleeding edge content nowadays, though it varies from one MMO to another, and older content are more flexible in letting you pick whatever if only because the demand is lower, or the event just rewards a raid currency you can spend on whatever you want (ensuring everyone gets what they want out of it) with no randomness at all.

      • (Score: 2) by arcz on Thursday May 03 2018, @03:16PM (2 children)

        by arcz (4501) on Thursday May 03 2018, @03:16PM (#675102) Journal

        There's nothing wrong with random ingame rewards. At least in the USA, in general, the government doesn't have the authority to regulate game mechanics (this is considered a speech restriction under constitutional law). If I charge a monthly fee to play the game I can put as much random loot drops in the game as I want.

        Not every incidence of chance is gambling. When you buy a TCG card pack, you are not "gambling" because the money always flows in one direction and the only way to make profit is by reselling cards to other players.

        To accept the logic that a random reward item for fixed price is "gambling" you must ban: Toy boxes that contain a randomly colored toy, because some colors might be more valuable than others. Random happy meal toys. TCG sales. All microprocessor sales, because microprocessor manufacturing inherently results in random defects and some processors can reach higher frequencies than others and hence are more valuable. Rocks, because some rocks might contain gemstones and thus the value of a rock is random. etc. It becomes absurd really fast.

        TL;DR: Loot boxes are not gambling, because you cannot make money off them directly. Randomness is not the only requirement for gambling.

        • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by arcz on Thursday May 03 2018, @03:25PM

          by arcz (4501) on Thursday May 03 2018, @03:25PM (#675107) Journal
          Also, I should clarify: Loot boxes can't be banned in the USA because a ban on a general exchange of money for an item of random value would be absurd. So can't the government just target loot boxes specifically? Well no, since a regulation that targets a speech medium directly will invoke constitutional scrutiny. So the government can't target this act only as applied to video games because that would be regulation of video games, a first amendment violation. But a general regulation would be unworkable.
        • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Thursday May 03 2018, @06:48PM

          by darkfeline (1030) on Thursday May 03 2018, @06:48PM (#675223) Homepage

          > Loot boxes are not gambling, because you cannot make money off them directly.

          You can though. Selling accounts that have accumulated X rare loot is mundane in the 21st century, to say nothing of the many games with integrated marketplaces or trade functionality.

          --
          Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03 2018, @06:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03 2018, @06:47PM (#675222)

        Sure, MMORPGs have random loot, but you earn it through gameplay, not real money. It's no different from the random loot tables that have been in pen & paper RPGs since day 1, random powerups that have been in video games since almost day 1, or rolling dice in Monopoly to see which property you get to buy.

        If any random result in a game is "gambling," well, I hope you like chess.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by kazzie on Thursday May 03 2018, @02:24PM (1 child)

    by kazzie (5309) on Thursday May 03 2018, @02:24PM (#675068)

    (re: the infographic on the global games market in the first TFA)

    I had no idea that the "Middle East" extended all the way to the Bering Strait. Or is that Europe?

    Yeah, Russia isn't easy to pidgeonhole into a continent.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03 2018, @03:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03 2018, @03:00PM (#675091)

    Market Saturation->Loot Boxes->Cancer

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