Loot Boxes as Gambling

So there’s a new game that you may have heard about, called Star Wars Battlefront 2.  There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this game for the past couple weeks talking about how content is locked behind pay walls and loot boxes.  After receiving so much backlash about this, EA decided they’d drop the requirements for accessing certain content by 75%..!  Sounds great, right?  But they also limited the currency you could earn in game by 75% as well.  Not only that, but they further limited how much you could earn in a single day while playing single player. >.<

It’s bad enough that you are paying full price for a AAA title, but then you have content behind lockboxes as well?  EA had even come to the point of giving bonuses for people to watch someone else opening lock boxes!  “LOOK AT THE NIFTY THINGS YOU CAN GET IF YOU SPEND MOAR MONEY NAO!”  I do have to say that I don’t know who got the bonuses, the person opening them in front of others? Or if others that watched got something as well.  But either way, this seems Predatory AF!

It got so bad that Disney called EA and told them to fix the problem! So EA ended up pulling loot boxes out of the game entirely, hours before launch!  (They also reserved the right to add them back into the game at a later date.)

But that’s not the end of the story.

European governments began looking at ‘Loot boxes’ and how they compared to gambling.  And as of yesterday, Belgium and Hawaii (Yes, a US state got into the action too!) have both chimed in and consider the practice to be Gambling!  Belgium is looking to introduce legislation to ban this practice in the European Union, and Hawaii Representatives say they are working with other states to do the same here in the US.  Check out this video for a better explanation:

Yong Yea Gaming News

(I happen to like this guy’s channel and he’s had a lot of coverage on this whole loot box issue, check out his other videos if you got time.)

This won’t just affect Battlefront 2, but any and all games that feature a ‘Chance’ to get something good.  This includes our Beloved SWL ‘Loot Lanterns.’  It’s that element of ‘Chance’ to get Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious gear items, or cosmetics that are ‘MUST HAVES’ that are at the root of this issue.

Cash for Cache keys..?

‘Loot Lanterns’ are a big reason SWL has done so well, and why FunCom has seen their best 3rd quarter in history.  But depending on what legislation goes through, these may change dramatically.  Or they could see only minor changes.  Again, it depends on what the legislation actually looks like when it comes down the pike.

I don’t see much issue with how our Loot Lanterns are done in game, but then again, I’m mid in my 40’s and have a stable job and know how to limit my spending (for the most part).  I’m also aware that not everyone will be as ‘well adjusted’ to this sort of thing, and it can become a slippery slope for them.

What changes would I like to see if it comes down to it?  Truth to tell, I’m not a game designer.  Nor am I actually involved in the gaming industry, outside of this blog and some IC twitter accounts.  But looking at this from an outside perspective, once you are level 15 you will be inundated with these caches!  But the way to open them is through a special key. One that while you can purchase the funds to buy a key in game and not spend a dime of real cash, the costs are prohibitive to do so.  I think last night I saw that Aurum was going for over 200 Marks each.  That’s 20K+ marks to get 1 key.  2 days worth of Challenges to get one key. How many Loot Lanterns will you acquire during that time?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get a good dozen a day at a minimum!  And that temptation to just spend my aurum on keys to open those suckers up is REAL.  I’m a filthy casual.  My time is limited for progression.  And I have 3 50’s to feed!  With that said, these daily keys are giving me the biggest boost to my gear progression, so finding a reason to open more of these isn’t that hard to do.  Especially when I have hundreds of older Caches in my bank still!  And knowing I could just spend a little extra here and there to open more of these to get that extra distillate, or maybe the Cyber Shades for my 3rd alt… it’s a thing!

So how can we change this?  We’d have to take the element of chance out of the equation.  That seems to be the heart of the Gambling connection.  So the type and size of distillates would have to be known ahead of time.  And the cosmetics?  We’d have to go back to the old style store and just buy the item we want.

Or maybe, at least make them available that way.  So maybe we can have each size of Distillate that you can get out of the Caches available in an ingame store for a set Aurum price, along with the cosmetic items, AND still have the caches give you a chance to get them randomly?  I’m not sure of having the option to buy something outright along with the random element when opening the Caches would satisfy whatever legislation will be brought down, but it’s an idea.  And ideas are what we’ll need soon.  How soon?  Probably early next year will be when the US Government will get things in place.  I’m not sure how fast Belgium or the EU can move, but I’d also figure early next year as well.

My fingers are Crossed that SWL doesn’t get affected much and that Funcom continues to have good returns.  This is a game I’ve loved since TSW Beta and want to see the story continue for years to come.

Hopefully EA hasn’t screwed it up for everyone by getting too greedy and pushing it too far.  Time will tell.


Let me know what you think in the comments below.  Thank you for stopping by.  And as always, I hope to see you in the Secret World!

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