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Old 11-17-2017, 10:46 AM   #1
Emabulator
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Star Wars Battlefront 2 Being Investigated by Belgian and Dutch Gambling Authorities


Loot boxes are coming under scrutiny. Eurogamer has the story.

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UPDATE 4:15PM: According to Dutch news outlet NU.nl, the Dutch Gambling Authority has now launched an investigation into whether games with loot boxes are games of chance.

In the Netherlands, games of chance are subject to licencing laws - however there is currently no licencing system for online games. The investigation is still in the research phase however could result in games containing gambling to be banned from sale until new laws are brought in.

ORIGINAL STORY 3:00PM: The Belgian Gaming Commission is investigating whether loot box systems used in Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch qualify as gambling.

Originally reported by VTM (via Gamasutra), the general director of the the Belgian Gaming Commission, Peter Naessens, told the local news outlet the commission is investigating whether the loot box mechanisms used in Battlefront 2 and Overwatch should be branded as gambling.
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Old 11-17-2017, 11:42 AM   #2
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If they're going to review this and subject it to gambling laws, then they'd better be ready to tackle a number of other games - both electronic and physical - that utilize similar systems.
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Old 11-17-2017, 11:48 AM   #3
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They should come under scrutiny. These companies are essentially utilizing 'game of chance' elements to separate folks from their money. That's GAMBLING. I'm all for adults doing whatever they wish with their lives and money, but I am NOT an advocate for euphemistic bullshit to hide the truth. It's gambling, plain and simple.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:04 PM   #4
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I agree, it's gambling, plain and simple. However I'm not sure the law does. The mechanisms are very similar to collectible card games, arguably a form of gambling that has somehow managed to exploit a loophole in gambling laws for years.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:11 PM   #5
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Not to get into a semantic argument, but the gambling charge doesn't quite fit given that there is no chance to win money. It could be argued that it is an entertainment expense. However, they are definitely exploiting the psychological aspects of gambling that makes it so attractive. At the minimum, there should be a clear display of the drop tables on RMT boxes. If someone still buys a loot box with all the information they need to take that chance, then that's on them and how they want to spend their money.

It's one thing if you have Diablo 3 and you have X% chance to get a Legendary item per kill where Time In -> Loot Possibility, but it is completely different when the system is built to put pressure on you to do Cash In -> Loot.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:23 PM   #6
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It does not require a monetary prize to be defined as gambling. Any potential prize with a value attached to it (goods, services, cash) can be involved in gambling. if you are spending money on a random chance for goods, services, or cash in return, you are gambling.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:29 PM   #7
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The "but it's not money" argument has been used on Reddit too, as well as another common argument "but you always get something in these systems". Both are false. Imagine a gold lottery, especially one where you always win something. So say you have a 90% chance to get back gold that is worth less in value than the ticket price, with a 10% chance that you'd get more back, rising up into increasingly smaller chances to get a lot of gold. There's no money involved and you always get back something. Yet it's still very clearly gambling, designed in such a way that stastically you'll get far less value back than what you put in.

Same here, the contents of the crates have value, even if they aren't money, otherwise people wouldn't be willingly to pay for them. That's what value is, how much people value something is how valuable it is. So I'd say the issue is with how much value you get back out of these crates. I really have no idea how much that value is, I've never bought a lootcrate, but the collectible card game example I am more familiar with, and there you really don't get an equal value back from random card packs, atleast that's always been my experience.

Edit: Eh, terran was faster and more concise...Oh well.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:47 PM   #8
excalibur1814
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Dear EA,

Ha haa!

Thanks,
Me.

P.s. I wonder how much money EA will pay to bribe x or y?
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Old 11-17-2017, 01:11 PM   #9
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*Battlefield 2*

DU DU, DU, DU DU DUN, DU DU, DU, DU DU DUN.
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Old 11-17-2017, 01:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Chimpbot View Post
If they're going to review this and subject it to gambling laws, then they'd better be ready to tackle a number of other games - both electronic and physical - that utilize similar systems.
Don't give them any ideas, I'm sure they'd be more than willing to do just that. Because these new laws in most likelihood won't be to protect children or stop gambling addiction, they'll almost certainly be fees/taxes to line their pockets.
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Old 11-17-2017, 01:26 PM   #11
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I'm not sure about belgian law, but here in the netherlands gambling laws are extremely strict and do in fact contain clauses intended solely to combat gambling addiction and protect children. Europe is a very different beast than america when it comes to these kind of laws.
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Old 11-17-2017, 01:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sensei-X View Post
Don't give them any ideas, I'm sure they'd be more than willing to do just that. Because these new laws in most likelihood won't be to protect children or stop gambling addiction, they'll almost certainly be fees/taxes to line their pockets.
It bothers me mainly because these things are not fundamentally any different from booster packs for Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. If they're ready, willing and able to regulate the video game version, they'd better be ready to tackle every game that uses this sort of system to separate players from their money.

I'm no fan of loot boxes or buying in-game currency...but, I'm also not entirely comfortable with further government regulation. Fortunately, this particular investigation is being held in Belgium and the Netherlands...so, there's that.
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Old 11-17-2017, 02:00 PM   #13
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*Battlefield 2*

DU DU, DU, DU DU DUN, DU DU, DU, DU DU DUN.
I remember playing BF2 for hundreds of hours asking myself, why is CoD popular when stuff like THIS is around?

It only took ten years and slight change to the formula to correct itself, but sadly CoD is still king.
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Old 11-17-2017, 02:09 PM   #14
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I'm also not entirely comfortable with further government regulation.
I am. I say screw 'em. Bring down the hammer. I'll enjoy the spectacle of mainly liberals getting liberally hammered by bureaucrats doing their bureaucratic bureaucraticizing.*

* Yeah, I made that last word up. So what.
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Old 11-17-2017, 04:12 PM   #15
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I'm all for adults doing whatever they want with their money, but this is a videogame aimed at ages 13+. This is exactly the age that kids start to get jobs to increase their allowance.

EA has gone out of its way to create a game where the amount of fun you have is dependent on your willingness to spend additional funds on it. Here's the creepy thing: an adult can just cut his losses and walk away from 60$ sunk into an unfun game, but teens can't (outside of piracy). They are an audience that is more able to spend a small amount on a regular basis, rather than make a large one time expenditure. The vast majority of teens who were planning to buy this game have likely saved up for it for quite a while.

Lootboxes are similar to trading card games, but differ in one very important aspect: Since you're playing with real people in the real world you can easily agree to not use certain cards. A lot of the really rare cards are banned from competetive play too. There are no such options in videogames. This has little legal impact but goes to show why is there little to no outcry over MTG's booster packs compared to lootboxes.

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Don't give them any ideas, I'm sure they'd be more than willing to do just that. Because these new laws in most likelihood won't be to protect children or stop gambling addiction, they'll almost certainly be fees/taxes to line their pockets.
Don't confuse the US with Europe. European countries simply raise taxes if needed. People certainly don't like it, but its not exactly a huge deal either. America is pretty much the only western country where the mere suggestion of raising taxes can be a political career ender.
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Old 11-17-2017, 05:07 PM   #16
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It bothers me mainly because these things are not fundamentally any different from booster packs for Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. If they're ready, willing and able to regulate the video game version, they'd better be ready to tackle every game that uses this sort of system to separate players from their money.
When my dad was a kid he would open packs of baseball cards and hope to get the cards with the up-and-coming stars. Same difference, right? Now some of those rare rookie cards are worth serious bank.

When I was a kid I opened up packs and packs of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back cards 'cause you could get images of the whole movie with lines of dialog. Got lots of extra cards that way. Eventually I ended up with some very valuable Magic the Gathering cards using the same mechanic when I got all growed up.

I'm not sure what the difference is here. You're exchanging money for the chance of getting something you feel has value. Sometimes the value is lower % than other items. Is this really gambling?

Don't get me wrong, I'm 1000% against how EA and Dice have implemented this abomination of a system but to call it gambling opens the door wide open to a slippery slope we do not want to end up on.
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:05 PM   #17
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I'm not sure what the difference is here. You're exchanging money for the chance of getting something you feel has value. Sometimes the value is lower % than other items. Is this really gambling?
A system that usually rewards you with very little, far less than you put into it, but with a faint hope of getting a lot, based purely on random chance, is gambling. If a lottery gives every participant 1 penny each time they play, it doesn't suddenly stop being gambling, just because some minute value is returned from what they put in. Just because random card packs reward you with worthless cards that you don't want or need, instead of worthless pennies, which you also don't want or need, doesn't change the nature of the system. For every 10 dollar rare you find, you'll spend 50 dollars buying random card packs, much like for every 10 dollars you win, you'll spend 50 dollars in slot machines. It's gambling, pure and simple.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm 1000% against how EA and Dice have implemented this abomination of a system but to call it gambling opens the door wide open to a slippery slope we do not want to end up on.
What slippery slope? What exactly is going to be affected by this other than systems based on gambling principles? The slippery slope argument in general is extremely overused, usually with very little supporting evidence.
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Old 11-17-2017, 07:12 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Chimpbot View Post
It bothers me mainly because these things are not fundamentally any different from booster packs for Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. If they're ready, willing and able to regulate the video game version, they'd better be ready to tackle every game that uses this sort of system to separate players from their money.

I'm no fan of loot boxes or buying in-game currency...but, I'm also not entirely comfortable with further government regulation. Fortunately, this particular investigation is being held in Belgium and the Netherlands...so, there's that.
We agree on something. Holy fucking hell.
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Old 11-17-2017, 07:50 PM   #19
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This is terrible. Where are all the conservatives on this site? Today we censor this, tomorrow it could be violence. Do you guys not care about freedom anymore? I thought you wanted to reduce regulations and govt interference? Or do you only want to reduce regulations when it is about destroying the planet?

Also this is very clearly not gambling because there is no way to get money out. The only value these loot boxes have is entertainment value, which is also true of every game you buy.

When I buy a game or a movie I will get an unknown amount of entertainment value out of it. Is that gambling?

When I buy a loot crate the same is true. If I get a sword that deals 99999 damage it will probably make the game less entertaining and has no resale value. So it isn't even true that the swords that deal more damage are more valuable in terms of entertainment, which is all they are for.
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Old 11-17-2017, 08:22 PM   #20
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Also this is very clearly not gambling because there is no way to get money out.
Is that the defining quality for gambling in your opinion? Is it even true? I'm not sure exactly how origin works, but are there no ways whatsoever to effectively transfers an account? Because based on the history of so many, many other games, an origin account with all upgrades unlocked for battlefront 2, might actually be worth quite a bit. Hell, people bought max lvl WoW characters with nothing else on them and that didn't take anything remotely near 2000 hours to unlock. Hell, people made a living just selling WoW characters. Admittedly, given the amount of bad press a battlefront 2 account might be a hard sell.

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The only value these loot boxes have is entertainment value, which is also true of every game you buy.

When I buy a game or a movie I will get an unknown amount of entertainment value out of it. Is that gambling?
The key difference is that the amount of entertainment (value) you get from these things is based on pure chance, unlike when you purchase a video game. A loot crate might give you a weapon for a class you don't play, or a skin that you don't like, something that is effectively worthless, or it might give you something that is very worth while, all based solely on chance. The amount of entertainment value you get out of a game is not based solely on chance, but a meriod of other factors, many of which you directly control. I haven't bought a game that wasn't worth it to me in years, just by researching the games I buy before hand. I've effectively always gotten a reasonable amount of value for the input that I put in. Something that is very often not true in a system based on chance and never is the case in gambling.

Also, where do you come down on random card packs for things like Magic? The cards there clearly have value other than just entertainment.

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When I buy a loot crate the same is true. If I get a sword that deals 99999 damage it will probably make the game less entertaining and has no resale value. So it isn't even true that the swords that deal more damage are more valuable in terms of entertainment, which is all they are for.
Jesus christ, what? This paragraph is barely coherent and certainly not relevant. You really think a massively overpowered weapon would have no resale value? That's absolutely ridiculous.
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