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!

SWL Currencies

On your Top Bar, there is an icon for each of your new currencies:

  • Aurum – This is the new FC Points you buy with Cash, or trade for in Game.
  • Marks of Favor – These are earned for doing missions or other tasks in game. Or you can trade for them.
  • Anima Shards – These are earned from Monster drops and Mission turn-ins and are used mostly for empowerment of your weapons.

Yes, Trading for Money is a thing!  They even have a Currency exchange!

Currency Exchange

The one Currency that I don’t seem to see any kind of trading option is Anima Shards.  Seeing how this is the one currency needed for empowerment of your items, I can see this being an issue.  It can keep people from upgrading gear if they don’t have enough, but then again, since his is a currency that drops off creatures you should be out there killing anyway (And awarded for missions) it can also be a way to keep people engaged in the world.  Not sure if that is intended, but it will be a side effect at the very least.

Looking at the exchange screen above, you can see one side is for wanting to BUY Aurum from others. and the other side is your willingness to SELL Aurum.  Keep in mind that the MoF value is NOT the total sale price, rather the individual Unit Price.  So someone is selling 120 Aurum at 52 MoF/each = 6240 Marks of Favor you’d have to spend in order to gain that 120 Aurum they have for sale.

Similarly, someone wants to BUY 245 Aurum, and is willing to spend 42 Marks of Favor each = 10290 Marks of Favor you could GAIN!

What I don’t know, since I have not partaken of this function yet, is how much of a cut the exchange will take from these transactions?  I have heard there is not cut, but after the fiasco that happened during the opening week, they may have added something to curb the people working the system.

The Auction house takes a 5% deposit, and if it sells it will keep that 5%.  If it doesn’t sell, they still keep that 5%!

Auction House Rules…

Speaking of the Auction House, it looks like you are limited to 10 items that you can place on the AH at a time.  I’ve never been that much of an AH player before, so I never knew if there was a similar rule in effect for TSW.  I MIGHT be selling certain things on the AH in this game though.  Depends on the quality of drops I get from my mission turn ins.

Something I found out in Chat, is that the bottom line on that screenshot shows your purchases.  When you buy things, and you get your mail saying it has been delivered to your storage, this is the place to check first!  It appears you are limited to 10 items to buy at a time before you have to claim them and store them properly.  (UPDATE: PATRONS get to use this remote access feature. If you are not a Patron, you have to visit the Auctioneer in Mall-gartha.)

Something to mention, Aurum is Account Wide.  Marks of Favor and Anima Shards are per character.  Which brings up another thing… Transferring items amongst your alts…

Trading outright is not allowed unless you are a patron.  (UPDATE: Non-patrons can freely trade once they hit level 15.)  And on top of that, Attaching items to the Mail is no longer a thing. ((NOTE – The “Take All Attachments” button on the main mail menu can be used to collect any money you may have from an AH Sale.))

Please leave a message after the beep… BEEP!

So that leaves Cabal Banks and the AH.  If you join a Cabal, you’ll need to make sure that you can add your alts to the cabal too, if you want to be able to use the cabal bank to have a quick free trade.

Alternatively, you can start your own cabal, and since this is a free to play game, you can create another account , to add another character to the cabal so you can then add your other alts on your main account to your own cabal and then just make free use of the cabal bank in order to trade freely amongst your alts.  This can also work if you have a good friend that you trust to add to your cabal, or be the trusted friend in THEIR Cabal!

Or there’s the AH, and I don’t know if there are restrictions on buying your own items from another character on your account.  I know Blizzard had this restriction for WoW, so I just assume it’s a thing elsewhere.  If anyone can test this for me, that would be greatly appreciated! (UPDATE: It appears that I cannot view my own items on the AH, even on another character, so they do appear to have placed a restriction in place for this eventuality.)

That just leaves Anima Shards to talk about.  Anima shards drop off monsters you fight in the field, and are awarded for completing missions.  You can sell items you acquire in the field for Anima Shards at vendors as well.  What are they good for?  Well, they are used in empowering your gear, and I haven’t found any vendors that deal in them either.

What I have found is another currency used at certain vendors  and i’m told it’s Third Age Fragments.  These are dropped from the special Agarthan Loot Bags that drop once you hit level 15. (aka – Loot Lanterns!)

One of the Third Age Fragment Vendors

UPDATE:

I appear to have failed to have noticed something else in the game. If you open your inventory, there is a button called WALLET.  Click that and you should get a screen similar to this:

Do they take Google Pay…?

I’ve already covered the top 4, the next ones are specials.  You are given the amounts shown above for free.  Dungeons replenish on a daily basis, Patrons getting 18, and Non-Patrons getting 12, so I would assume Lairs and Scenarios would as well.  (UPDATE: Scenario/Lair keys do replenish Daily as well.  Non-Patrons receive 2 Scenario keys per day, and Patrons receive 3.  Non-Patrons receive 3 Lair Keys, and Patrons Receive 6.)  Lairs MIGHT be weekly though… I don’t know, I haven’t had a chance to get to lair’s yet.

Cache keys are going to be a ‘meat-and-potatoes’ staple of the new F2P economy to keep the servers running. So you should be able to buy those at least.   WHERE is the question I can’t seem to get answered yet though.  the other keys are also supposed to be purchasable too, but again, I can’t seem to get an answer on where, yet.  I will update again if/when I find out.


UPDATE:  To buy Cache Keys, right-click on a Loot-Lantern in your inventory and the option to buy more appears on the right side of the Cache Window:

Cash for Cache keys..?

Please note that there is no bulk discount for keys!  They are a Flat 150 Aurum cost across all quantities!  How much does that cost in Real World dough?

Gotta keep these servers Hummin’ somehow, right?

If you take away the ‘Bonus Aurum’ from the equation, you’ll see that the cost is about 1 penny per Aurum.  So the 150 Aurum to buy a single Cache Key equates to about $1.50 each.  Considering you get one of these a day if you are a patron, that means you are receiving about $45 worth of content each month just with the one key a day!

So how does this compare to the old TSW FunCom Points?

Aurum vs FC points…. Ready…… FIGHT!

FC points didn’t give us the ‘Extra Bonus’ in green numbers to the side like they do for Aurum.  BUT… if you include the ‘Bonus Aurum’ in your calculations, you see that at the top end, you end up at the same value Aurum-to-FC Point.  Of course I have to take the values out to the 4th decimal place (Hundredths of a cent) in order to even SEE this..!

I see the difference as minimal.  At the low end, if we received 600 Aurum, I can get 4 Cache Keys, but since we only get 500, I’ll only be able to get 3 and have 50 left over to play with on the Exchange.  So there is that, at least.


So these are the currencies that I’ve found in SWL so far.  I’m sure there will be more later on, as there was for the Whispering Tide event in TSW.  I hope this article proved to be informative for you.

Thanks for stopping by!  Let me know if you find anything else! And I’ll See you in the Secret World!