*if you’d rather not read the whole article then you can check out the video below instead.
*please help me out by subscribing to my youtube channel. It would go a long way in assisting me. 🙂
Loot boxes, uh a hot-button term, one that divides the gaming community in a number of ways.
If you’re a gamer then you are probably aware of the dismal release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and the subsequent blowout back in November 2017.
Hell, you’ve probably heard about it even if you aren’t a gamer. This blowout sent ripples through the gaming industry and eventually garnered the attention of mainstream network journalists, state representatives and government officials.
Let’s start at the beginning though:
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was released in November 2017.
However, when the game was in testing, players who were fortunate enough to be involved discovered that the game had a massive flaw.
A malicious system was implemented that would require players to spend thousands of hours grinding in order to obtain enough in-game currency to purchase characters integral to the Star Wars universe or power-ups, all the while violently nudging players into spending real-world money on loot boxes.
With no drop rate specified for items, players could spend hundreds of dollars on power-ups. Essentially, a pay-to-win system.
The backlash that followed led to the infamous most downvoted comment in Reddit history where EA tried to sell the idea that they wanted players to feel pride and accomplishment when a character was finally obtained after hours of grinding… or just skipped the grind and spent the cash.
A very weak defence.
EA had to remove microtransactions completely from the game when Disney got wind of what was happening and personally called EA.
Even with microtransactions removed from the game players would still be grinding over 3000 hours of playtime in order to unlock characters.
It was then brought to light that was no customizable skins within the loot boxes. EA then went on a tangent defending a practice that has been common in games of this calibre regarding customizable skins.
After questioning EA, they replied with “they couldn’t do customizable skins because they didn’t want to mess with the star wars cannon.” And making fun of the possibility of pink Darth Vader.
Data miners, in response to this statement, found that within the battlefront 2 system there was, in fact, an option for customizable skins, EA just hadn’t unlocked them yet and was probably saving it for a future update.
More gamers retaliated against EA by showcasing a pink and white version of Darth Vader in game.
Taking the above into account and the fact that Disney had to get involved, you can imagine that EA garnered some well-deserved attention in the public eye. The debate over whether Lootboxes were gambling had now filtered into the public domain and a Hawaii State official, Chris Lee, got the ball rolling on writing up new bills regarding Loot boxes.
Slowly, more countries have gotten involved in the investigation regarding whether loot boxes are gambling or not, from Scandinavia, Germany and Great Britain.
Belgium and the Netherlands have already ruled that EA’s FIFA Ultimate Team is equivalent to gambling and in violation of their laws.
According to an article by Jeff Grubb on Venture Beat, EA is still pushing forward with loot boxes, regardless of what other countries are saying or doing.
EA CEO Andrew Wilson had this to say at an industry conference call with analysts:
“We’re going to continue pushing forward [with FIFA Ultimate Team “We’re always thinking about our players. We’re always thinking about how to deliver these types of experiences in a transparent, fun, fair, and balanced way for our players and we’ll continue to work with regulators on that.”
In the article, it is revealed that EA made $1.25 billion dollars in revenue during its last quarter and this is without releasing a new AAA game.
“We’re working with all of the industry associations globally and with regulators in certain regions and territories,” said Wilson. “Many of [the regulators] we’ve been working with for a long time, and they have evaluated and established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling.”
It’s obvious why Andrew Wilson would state this as already confirming the ridiculous amount of money made from microtransactions in the last quarter, he would have no choice to but to defend EA’s Holy Grail of money making.
This is the source of all EA’s major income and would be hard-pressed to make money from the gaming industry legitimately.
My other thought is that EA will not name it’s regulators at all. They are faceless corporate who won’t come into the limelight, likely because it would severely hamper their reputation.
But, personally, I would welcome these “regulators” because I would love to hear their side of the argument.
Andrew Wilson also explained why he felt that loot boxes do not constitute as gambling.
“First, players always receive a specified number of items in every FUT pack,” the executive explained. “Second, we don’t provide or authorize any way to cash out digital items or virtual currency for real-world money. And there’s no real-world value assigned to in-game items.”
It’s important to note that even though EA doesn’t provide a way to cash-out in-game items, that doesn’t change the fact that these items are being sold on third party websites and it won’t stop potential sellers and gamblers from exploiting that system.
This means that loot boxes in this instance are actually gambling.
After a quick Google search,I found two websites that allow you to sell your Fifa coins and characters. There is more of a risk involved in this practice besides the main “are loot boxes gambling?” element and it’s a very slippery slope for EA and players wishing to exploit the system.
I’m specifically referencing players who farm coins and then sell them on the black market.
I feel that the blame should be put on EA; whether they’re at fault for having a shitty monetization practice in the first place or for failing to actually prevent players from selling accounts.
EA is the company that has given players, charlatans and gamblers an opportunity to exploit other players and the system itself and as long as it is not kept in check, EA will continue to make gallons of money while sharks pick off pennies on the sides.
Take all of what I have just said out of the equation and you are still left with the psychological implications of loot boxes; a system that is designed to look, sound and feel like a casino slot machine.
It preys on every person’s gambling tendencies. While some players are able to resist the temptation, myself included, it does not change the fact that there is serious harm that can be done and has been done to players who have been abused by this system.
It is taking advantage of players with problems and children. Children don’t even have to play the game, they can just watch someone else play, case in point those loot-box videos that you find on YouTube.
You really think that is not going to have some affect on a kids mind regardless if they are playing the game or not.
It’s all psychological.
I’m calling you out Andrew Wilson, your company is a corporate shark, preying on players, causing real-world problems. EA is a plague on the gaming industry and you should be held accountable.
The gaming community needs a publisher it can trust and you, EA, are not one of them.
So why does EA condone loot boxes?
Because it made them a billion dollars last quarter regardless of the Battlefront 2 backlash.
If you’d like to stop these practices from happening then vote with your wallet. Stop giving into microtransactions and stop buying games with an abundance of loot boxes. This is the only way EA and other like-minded publishers will learn.
What do you guys think of loot boxes? Is it gambling or not? Should EA be held accountable? Leave a comment down below and let’s start a discussion.
Until then, be good to each other.
I must be one of the dumbest gamers on the planet. I live in my own little world and never really think of how other “gamers” view gaming or enjoy gaming or what they think is gaming.
I read an article tonight at my opinion as a gamer in which they question Nintendo’s objective to make more moola off of Let’s Play Video‘s. It was revealed to me that some gamers will actually watch an entire game with out even playing it , like at all. You can read the article here.
I fail to believe that and i sincerely hope that this is not the case. After posting that article about the equality of gaming, i find myself somewhat torn about the acceptance speech that i was giving in that article. If you watch an entire game on You Tube and you have no interest in ever owning that game, are you actually a gamer then? My knee jerk reaction is a deafening no! Does that make me a hypocrite then? Because the person watching the video obviously has some interest in games if he/she has taken the time too look for it online and maybe just can’t afford to purchase said game and wants to get as close as an experience to the game as possible.
*Sigh* now i feel bad because if that is the case, then i can understand why Nintendo would want to restrict those kinds of videos and to cash in on it, this being just one reason if it is in fact true. And i feel bad for the hypothetical gamer that can’t afford to play this game.
I am honestly torn. I need everybody that reads here to vote and leave a comment for me. I am exceptionally curious about this. I have no allegiance yet and that bothers the hell out of me so i need your help. If you voted for option C, please leave a comment to elaborate.
Beyond! (sorry, being listening to a lot of podcasts lately)
Did you miss out on Gamescom 2013? If your answer is yes, then don’t stress. Here at Gamers Therapy I have compiled both conferences from Microsoft and Sony including a Sony Q&A panel, plus the games I’m most looking forward to come the PS4 and Xbox One.
Killzone Shadow Fall Multiplayer
Infamous Second Son “Fetch”
The Order 1886
Titanfall Gameplay Demo
While it does look like I’m Sony biased based upon the videos let me assure you that I’m not. Titanfall is the only Xbox One Exclusive I’m looking forward to.
The First game I ever played on Play Station was the Demo for Abe‘s Oddysee. It was the first game that introduced me to the platforming genre and it’s the one game that I haven’t thought about until now.
You play as Abe, a Mudokon from Oddworld who is born into captivity as the rest of the Mudokons are and works as a floor-waxer at Rupture Farms as a low level employee but is one of the best workers there having won employee of the month. Rupture farms makes the best meals on the planet. Their top sellers are Scrab Cakes, Paramite Pies and Meech Munchies. However Rupture Farm’s ingredients are running out, one of them already extinct. Abe works late one night and notices that shareholders and the owner of Rupture Farms are having a meeting about what to do about their products running dry. Molluck the Glukkon who practically owns the Mudokon civilization and Rupture Farms has a “New ‘n Tasty” idea that will drive the companies profits back up. The next big meal, Mudokon Pops. Abe is horrified at hearing this and makes a desperate attempt to escape the factory and vows to find a way to save his fellow Mudokons before they are tossed in the meat grinder.
Abe’s Oddysee was released in 1997 and still after playing the original again the other day I have to say this is still a beautiful game, right from the art decor right through to the character design. Sure it looks dated now but it is still a lot of fun. The puzzles are challenging, the game play is perfect, the communication between Abe and other Mudokon’s always makes me laugh. Possessing Sligs is a hoot especially when you’re done with them and you watch them explode into chunky pieces.
The only thing that i can fault this game on is the checkpoint system meaning that if you die and you’ve just gotten past a particularly difficult puzzle or obstacle you might have to do it again. But besides that, what a fantastic game to play.
For those of you who haven’t played this game worry not, if you own a PS3, log onto the Playstation store and browse the classic games for the PS1. You can buy Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exodus for only R45-00 each. To the PC owners, you will probably just download it from Piratebay.
However if you would like to own a physical copy of the game have patience. UK studio Just Add Water is remaking Abe’s Oddysee for current generation consoles and will be available in autumn 2013 for PC, Xbox, PS3 and PS Vita.
Having played the original and then watching the footage from the HD remake, at this point i prefer the original.
Just a few points on why I prefer the original:
Why I like the HD Remake:
Keep in mind though, the HD footage is in a Pre-alpha phase so some of these issues may be addressed before release.
Watch both Videos of original Abe and New Abe and let me know what you think.