The old debate

The BBC is hitting us with another version of a debate that has been going on for a while. The article (at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-61594815) gives us ‘Report blasts “manipulative” video game loot boxes’, first off, they are not lying to you, this is not misrepresentation. In this, I do not completely agree with the point of view of some. The article gives us “The contents of the virtual boxes are only revealed through either game play or by making a payment. While some contain useful tools or desirable extras which improve the experience, others are worthless.” These facts are true. There are two sides here. In the first, why allow for payment? It is the right of a person to buy something, we set ourselves up for that one. Yet in all this, the people who paid 12,000 euro for boxes. No one is debating the utter stupidity of these people. No one is debating that as an adult YOU are responsible for your actions. But the press was all about those poor poor junkies, weren’t they? The other issue is “others are worthless”, what makes the card worthless? It is a direct question. What makes a card worthless? In the NHL game, there are functional cards (stadiums and players), there are cosmetic cards (outfits) and there are support cards, so what makes a card worthless? Then we get “The report authors, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC), say gamers are being “manipulated” into spending large sums of money on the chests.” I have an issue with that. Which games were they? How was there manipulation? The NHL game gave card packs on milestones, and there were a lot of milestones. In addition, you got three free packs a day, and if you connected to the game (logged in) often enough, you got enough markers (there is one in EVERY pack) to exchange those markers for an expanded pack, giving you 12 or even 20 cards. The packs also had a betting coin card. One per pack and these funds allowed you to bid for other cards. Within 3 months I had all the stadiums, all the NHL jerseys and hockey masks, as well as over 100 players. I NEVER spend a cent, this was all free. So please tell me “How was I manipulated into spending large sums of money?” There are always the stupid people who want it all on day one, is that the fault of the game maker? Is it THEIR responsibility for the stupidity of others? The next part of my disagreement is seen in “Critics say the boxes are a form of gambling because players cannot see what they have actually bought until after they have paid to open the contents”. In this it is important to see WHY I disagree. You see in CCG games like Magic, Star Trek, Star Wars, The lord of the rings and more we see that a pack has one rare (optionally one super rare), 2-3 uncommon cards and the rest are common. This is a set formula. So if a game set has 50 rare cards, you would be buying at the very least 50 packs. The optional rest is gotten through swapping with other players at events and at tournaments. It is NOT gambling because one element is missing. The element of gambling is that you lose everything, so until there is a pack where you get all blank cards stating “Thank You!”, it is NOT gambling. You always get a set equation, you always get something. It makes it not gambling. 

In this I oppose the setting of “Finn Myrstad, director of digital policy at the NCC, said: “The sale and presentation of loot boxes often involve exploiting consumers through predatory mechanisms, fostering addiction, targeting vulnerable consumer groups and more.”” Yet there is a sparkly of truth here too and I do not deny it. Players like Electronic Arts played the exploitative element too much in FIFA, it backfired. There is exploitation, especially when the complete pack contains 10,000 players. However I disagree with the ‘predatory mechanism’ part. There is a whole range of predators on YouTube with there ‘card reveal’ channel, there “Do this to get something for free” and that is never a good thing, but these groups did not separate the exploiters from the makers, did they? Lets be clear the makers are not freshly white innocent. Only the people from Mass Effect 3 who introduced these loot-boxes in their multi player element, they were phenomenal and massively innocent. Others used that stage to make big money. 

The article ends with “But the same year Fortnite-maker, Epic Games, decided to let players in its hit video game see what was inside its llama loot boxes before deciding whether to buy them.” And their case agains Apple gained traction. I believe that the Epic Games people are the lest innocent, and their setting will have long term repercussions, it is only a matter of time. The one element not seen was given to us by Android: Netrunner. They gave us a different setting making it fair all around, the expansions were all the same price and always had the same cards, so there was only one pack to buy (once a month). It allowed for a smoother and fair game stage. In addition, the CCG world has something called factory sets. They were slightly different (like a silver border) but that was the only difference. A factory set contained ALL the cards of a game. The game was instantly fully playable, but they do tend to come later. So EA had the option to release a factory set half way through the season, but they did not, did they? Is it on EA? That would be a fair question, and I do not know the answer, merely my feeling in this. Is there a larger exploitation? Yes, but not all of it is on the makers. YouTubers were all over their FIFA cards and the more bang the better their bucks and the numbers of their followers, but we do not see that here either.

The BBC (as well as Tom Gerken) never lie to you, yet I have issues with the article as I have issues with the setting of it. The players HAVE a responsibility and some are pushing it on EA (and others) and the media aided them, which is not fair either. All this is merely my point of view, so feel free to disagree.

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