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Here could be the start of another nail in the coffin for loot boxes, as the Children's Commissioner in England has put out a new report after a little study was done.

Never heard of the Children's Commissioner? It's a public independent body in England that is responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children (read more here). The current head is Anne Longfield, who today released a pretty damning report on the state of how certain games and companies really attempt to suck money out of people at every opportunity.

I won't quote all of it to spare you some of the things we all already know but it's good to see such a thing being done over here. It's needed, it has been for a long time now. This particular study had them speak to children between 10 to 16 about their gaming habits, what they liked and disliked and so on. Games included that were talked about include Fortnite, Call of Duty, FIFA, Roblox and more which do have some pretty aggressive advertising of the in-game items and subscriptions.

Not all of it is terrible in the report though, thankfully Longfield does carefully mention how playing games can help people to socialise, learn new skills and have fun. All of this applies to adults, just as much as it does to children both the pros and cons of it all.

The result of the study is where it gets interesting. The Commissioner has called for multiple things to be changed, a few of which I will summarise below:

  • A place to track historic spending in games
  • A maximum daily spending limit in the games as well
  • Calls on the UK government to adjust the Gambling Act to regulate loot boxes as gambling
  • Calls on the UK government to have a wider review into the definition of gambling in the Gambling Act, due to all the new forms of monetization appearing in games
  • Games distributed online should get a legally enforceable age-rating system like physical games
  • A requirement of additional warnings for games which have in-game transactions

This bit especially caught my attention:

The amount of money spent, and the lack of a guaranteed reward meant children often feel like their money is wasted. In some cases, they lose control of their spending and attempt to ‘chase losses’ by spending more.

That sure as hell sounds like gambling to me…

You can find the full report here.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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58 comments
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Avehicle7887 22 October 2019 at 3:54 pm UTC
Personally I'm all in for loot boxing bans. Over the years I've pretty much came to terms with DLC instead of full blown expansions, at least you still get the content you paid for.

Loot boxes is a completely different thing though, it doesn't just affect the wallet but the way a game is shaped. Guild Wars 2 is a perfect example of this, the game turned into a loot box fest in recent years, forget playing the game and have a stab on getting cool skins the same way the first game was.
adamhm 22 October 2019 at 3:55 pm UTC
mirvOn this subject I can heartily recommend Jim Sterling. He's done some good videos on this very topic, with some proper research and thought out points on the matter.

People should watch this one in particular:

The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization

There's also this video about it by YongYea: CEO Keynote On Tricking Players Into Mass Spending Highlights Deplorable Truth of Microtransactions
Purple Library Guy 22 October 2019 at 4:41 pm UTC
fagnerln
Liam Dawe
fagnerlnHERE WE GO AGAIN...

We don't need the government controlling even more our lives, the parents should moderate what their children are using.
Except many don't and that's without getting into the issues that the report brings up, with bullying when some kids don't have what others do due to the microtransactions and so on. There's an absolute ton of reasons why this sort of legislation is necessary and it's not just for kids too, you do realise this kind of gambling and blowing money on loot boxes/micro happens very regularly to adults too right?

Don't be so naive.

I know that microtransactions are bad, but the parent should be closer to their kid and show what is bad, explain the things and ban the game. That simple.
So you're saying children with bad parents don't deserve not to be fleeced by con artists? I guess it's their fault for not picking their parents carefully.
ObsidianBlk 22 October 2019 at 4:41 pm UTC
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fagnerlnHERE WE GO AGAIN...

We don't need the government controlling even more our lives, the parents should moderate what their children are using.

You know, if you're talking about parents moderating whether their kids are playing a mature game, sure! However, let's look at a game like Fifa, which has a HUGE number of MTX... I just looked it up... all of the game that I saw were rated 'Everyone' (US - ESRB). Why would parents assume they have to monitor and/or moderate their child's use of a game that a recognized ratings board deemed appropriate for... EVERYONE?! Your statement also assumes parents are even aware of the issues going on with Lootboxes and other aggressive MTX strategies. Most aren't. So when they see a game is rated for Everyone, they're going to assume that their little Jane or Johnny is fine.

What makes this rating rather damning is, on a very technical level (the kind of technical level that gives the finger to the spirit of a law and bowls people over with the letter of the law instead), lootboxes and other MTX strategies are not gambling, which leaves the loophole open for games that should be for all ages (like, for kids as much as anyone else) to have predatory gambling (like) transactions designed purely to con gamers (especially kids and others susceptible to gambling-like behaviors) into spending money... all while mom and dad are none the wiser until they suddenly see their child racked up a bill of over $1000 in a game with a rating that suggests it's a perfectly innocent game.
MisterPaytwick 22 October 2019 at 4:52 pm UTC
fagnerlnAh, and talking about drugs, I bet that mostly of you in the comments support the "free drugs" movement. "People are free to use any drug they want, because they 'own' yourselves, but gambling, nah, please government, save them", ironic

So you bet without knowing much of people, nice sir. But let me riddle that for you: government _regulation_ is about regulating what people have to lower the risks and damages that _most_ people will have by enforcing rules to the people that _make money off_ the very subject. So Free Drugs and shit without government regulation is as dumb as it get. Government regulation on drugs would actually ensure a base line quality that mesh into not fucking your health. Because health is expensive. (Side note: and saving on health, especially in a country with healthcare, like NL is pretty massive since not spending money -ie not having to heal someone by not having that person sick- is the best move)

And if you had ever worked with drug addicts, or lived with some drug users, you'll know one thing: if the cops have to tell people to not smoke pot right now because of something (ie sand, glass, plastics) found en masse in a large amount of the local blended pot in the area, you'll be a billion time better off with the government accepting that people sell (and pay taxes over those sales) drugs because they'll enforce a base line of health related rules.

So, to bring it back to the point: the government enforcing rules against gambling/lootboxes/whatever the fuck and such may not be about meddling in your business, but enforcing rules to ensure damages can be controlled.

But then again, if people have to spell it out, maybe the problem isn't how other governments want to regulate that but yours alone.

Gambling addiction is like drug addiction, hell even fucking sport addiction. It's an addiction, and many people are vulnerable to that. Not to the same addiction necessarily, tho, but all in all it can destroy one life.

To go back more on the topic, I have a bit of a problem with this:

QuoteA place to track historic spending in games

And

QuoteGames distributed online should get a legally enforceable age-rating system like physical games
A requirement of additional warnings for games which have in-game transactions

Let me explain: Steam has one already for free to play games (IIRC, but maybe others too). But it's ass ×10. For Dota for example:
  • Go on your profile

  • Go to the game badge (so a game not played recently goes like Go to Games, Click the Badge)

  • Click on the game's badge page (there will be cards) 'How do I earn card drops?'

  • Check how much money you spend (it seems to reset at some points! I'm fucking sure I've spent more money than it show since the cards happened -I'm talking about 2k$ more than shown for me, so I'm pretty fucking sure-



The only way to qualify this, and from the bad habits I've seen in US/UK laws being quote applied to the letter of it a good note would be:

QuoteAn easy to access place to track historic spending in games


For the second quote: wouldn't that still leave open the Crash Bandicoot Racing Nitro-Fueled/Plants vs Zombies GW2 shenanigans? Start without a shop, get the rating, then push an update to have a shop. Boxes can't all be fixed, many people doesn't follow up on games before hands to know if it'll happen or it's suspected.

I'd actually want to see how they could enforce the kind of legwork that bullshit will make happen. As nut as it sound, would publishers have to run through an office all the update? Sound pretty shit. Will an office overwatch the games over the years and go ham on publishers trying that? Sound less shit to be quite honest, but not ideal. At least it'd enforce games to have them or not from the get go.

On the other hand, at some point, a company should reflect on the need of money versus the risk of getting whacked by a governmental office over that kind of thing. I couldn't feel sorry for those trying tho. I'm all for people making money with their hardwork, but not much if it include fucking over people.


Last edited by MisterPaytwick on 22 October 2019 at 4:55 pm UTC
Kimyrielle 22 October 2019 at 4:56 pm UTC
fagnerlnHERE WE GO AGAIN...

We don't need the government controlling even more our lives, the parents should moderate what their children are using.

Yeah, regulating society is bad! How dare they making laws not to kill each other, or steal each other's stuff! Unacceptable! And now they want to protect minors from online gambling using the same logic already in place for real life gambling! How dare they!!!!

Libertarians will never cease to make laugh, really. Second dumbest ideology on Earth, after the Flat-Earthers. As if totally unregulated markets would have worked at any point in history, anywhere in the world. *rolls eyes*

Also, I don't think you have kids. Otherwise you would find having to say "NO!!!!" to the 99.9% of all mobile games that use these pathetic business practices as annoying as I do.
x_wing 22 October 2019 at 5:34 pm UTC
fagnerlnAh, and talking about drugs, I bet that mostly of you in the comments support the "free drugs" movement. "People are free to use any drug they want, because they 'own' yourselves, but gambling, nah, please government, save them", ironic

Bad example. The legalization is not about legalizing all the drugs, it's just for a very specific set of them. Drugs are complex item and can be very harmful on inexperienced hands, so that's why not every drug can be managed by everyone. In the same line, we can expect that kids will have bigger problems than adults in order to handle gambling techniques.
Grifter 22 October 2019 at 5:52 pm UTC
fagnerlnMaybe if the father spent some time with the kid, maybe this didn't happened the first time.

Yes, this is exactly how kids work. You tell them not to do something, and then they never do it.
Tets 22 October 2019 at 5:53 pm UTC
Liam Dawe
fagnerln
Eike
fagnerlnAh, and talking about drugs, I bet that mostly of you in the comments support the "free drugs" movement. "People are free to use any drug they want, because they 'own' yourselves, but gambling, nah, please government, save them", ironic

Ironically, you pointed at the difference between adults and kids yourself in the very same posting...

The adult is responsible for the children, not the government, is that hard to get?

I known a boy that used their father's credit card, ONCE. The father explained to him that this is a bad thing. Maybe if the father spent some time with the kid, maybe this didn't happened the first time.
You are so incredibly naive and narrow minded, I'm genuinely amazed.

I've seen first-hand how gambling can ruin an adult's life, just as much as a child.

So, because some are irresponsible, we all need to be supervised? Sorry, no. I like my freedom (even to do stupid things). It's my life and my money. And I don't even like games with microtransactions, loot boxes, ...
And yeah, government is like mafia. Probably worse, mafia takes your money and then leaves you alone (mostly). Government takes your money and with it tells you what you can (and can't!) do, how to behave, what to do with your life... I'm a human, not an ant or Chinese. I grew up in socialism and the West is going that way right now with all this bullshit. Sad.
Sorry for that, I'll try to refrain from politics, it's a website about games.
Liam Dawe 22 October 2019 at 5:58 pm UTC
TetsSo, because some are irresponsible, we all need to be supervised? Sorry, no. I like my freedom (even to do stupid things). It's my life and my money. And I don't even like games with microtransactions, loot boxes, ...
And yeah, government is like mafia. Probably worse, mafia takes your money and then leaves you alone (mostly). Government takes your money and with it tells you what you can (and can't!) do, how to behave, what to do with your life... I'm a human, not an ant or Chinese. I grew up in socialism and the West is going that way right now with all this bullshit. Sad.
Sorry for that, I'll try to refrain from politics, it's a website about games.
I think we found the most naive and ridiculous comment we're going to find on GOL for a while right here.

I'll be blunt as heck: if you think rampant loot box gambling and super forcive microtransactions are in any way good and not in need of sorting out, you need a fracking reality check.
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