Video games, played by the interests of gambling
Hawaii and Belgium study to regulate the so-called 'loot' boxes, chests with cosmetic objects or improvements in the performance of the player, which are awarded at random and in certain titles encourage to spend money
The boxes of rewards - chests, boxes of 'loot' or letters are some of the other denominations that have these peculiar booties - have been gradually incorporated into video games in recent years. They are hidden objects behind a closed box or a reversed card - chance is key - that the player discovers when finishing a level or fulfilling a certain objective. They became fashionable with the rise of the titles 'free to play', those games that are presented as free but that give the possibility of acquiring this type of reward paying.
In this way the player obtains a purely cosmetic object - a fun hat for the protagonist, for example - or improves his performance, which allows him to progress more quickly in the game. On paper, there seems to be nothing wrong, however many of these games abuse the system, offering repeated objects without great value and encouraging the player to spend more and more. Does it sound like something? Although the investment never returns money, the mechanics is very similar to that of a slot machine.
It was a matter of time before the system reached traditional video games . Not in vain, the developments are increasingly expensive, while the prices of games continue to oscillate between 60 and 70 euros. That some players of 'Mass Effect 3' have managed to spend 15,000 euros, when for practical purposes it was not necessary to complete the game, it shows that the tactic followed by some publishers is not preposterous. 'Overwatch', 'Team Fortress 2', 'Counter Strike: Global Offensive' or 'PlayerUnknown's Battleground' have adopted this monetization system without much controversy - all the improvements that could be obtained with the chests were cosmetic.
However, it seems that Electronic Arts has stretched the string too much, approaching the feared 'pay-to-win', the expression with which the Anglo-Saxons identify the games in which it is necessary to pay to win. So it has been with two of his latest titles: 'Need for Speed: Payback' and 'Star Wars Battlefront 2' . In the first, a car game, the progression was closely linked to the loot boxes that the player received at the end of each race and if the player had bad luck he could be forced to compete several times even though he had a good race . This will continue to be the case, but after complaints received from users, the study has decided to award more rewards.
In the case of the second, as it was raised at first, the last installment of the game based on the franchise of George Lucas required to open 3,111 boxes of loot to discover all its secrets, which translated into hours of play were 4,528 , or invest 2,100 dollars . The situation tensed so much the atmosphere among the fan community that finally EA has deactivated, until further notice, the option to acquire such rewards.
This last case has led the Democratic Party of the House of Representatives of Hawaii to announce that the State is studying to stop these "predatory" practices. Chris Lee, member of the formation, has described the title as "a thematic online casino of Star Wars, designed so that the children spend money". In his opinion, "loot boxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to take advantage of human psychology in the same way as casinos. This is especially true in the case of young people, who according to child psychologists and other experts are especially vulnerable. These mechanisms of exploitation and the deceptive marketing that promotes them have no place in games that are being promoted to minors; Maybe they do not take place in video games. "
The Belgian Gaming Commission is also studying the matter , although it has not yet made a decision on the matter. For now, the Minister of Justice of this country, Koen Geens, has been in favor of prohibiting this system of monetization and has already declared that "mixing bets with video games, especially at an early age, is dangerous for the mental health of children".
And what is the opinion of the organizations that are in charge of classifying video games by age? The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) of the United States states that it sees nothing wrong. "While there is an element of chance in the boxes, the player is guaranteed to receive content for the game (even if it is something that the player unfortunately did not want.) We see it in principle as something similar to collecting cards. and you get a new one that you wanted some time ago, but other times you end up with repeated cards.The ESRB does not consider this mechanism to be a type of bet because the player uses real money to obtain in-game content, "a spokesperson responded to the specialized media Eurogamer .
The response of PEGI , which regulates the age classification in the EU, is similar: "Loot boxes are not considered as bets now: you always get something when you buy them, even if it is not what you expected". In spite of everything, both organisms continue paying attention to a system of monetization that seems to have come to stay.