Billy Xiong Loot Boxes should be a Consumer Protection Mat…

Loot Boxes should be a Consumer Protection Mat...

There has been a lot of talk about loot boxes in recent times. Many video game companies have chosen to use this mechanic as a way to create revenue on top of the initial cost of the title. While this is something that has been avoided by most of the recommended online casinos, the video game industry has taken it to heart.

Many feel that it should come under the jurisdiction of the various gambling regulators around the world. However, the EU IMCP feels that it should actually come under the umbrella of consumer protection. This conclusion has come from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi a study that was commissioned by the EU IMCP.

Taking Advantage of Behavioural Impulses

The study has shown that players are taken advantage of by these loot boxes found inside the games. The main issue that the study has flagged up is that the games use an addictive reward structure to create the loot box system. This is combined with an artificial value for items that are supplied by the loot boxes, which gives players the potential to succumb to problem gambling. As there is no real value to the items, it further exacerbates the issue for players.

While the EU IMCP does believe that the use of loot boxes creates a gambling mechanic within the game, it also acknowledges that using gambling legislation to limit loot boxes has been attacked by lobbyists at every turn. Because of this, the EU IMCP believes that going down the route of consumer protection would be a more effective path to regulating the issue.

Introducing consumer protection would mean a number of extra steps being added in order to protect players. This could start with something as simple as adding extra information screens. The additional information would give players the ability to understand exactly what is taking place when using the loot boxes.

Due to a lot of the game developers being deliberately vague about how their loot boxes work, it does mean that consumers are not fully protected. The introduction of consumer protection would mean that a lot more information and knowledge would have to be provided to players before they can engage with any loot box feature.

Introducing More Legislation

The introduction of new legislation for loot boxes is something that has been pushed for a long time now. Many countries around the world have had politicians and people in power calling for gambling regulation for many years. There has still been no positive movement in regard to legislation being brought forward…

Bill Adderley

Fahad Al Tamimi The link between loot boxes, gaming, and child…

The link between loot boxes, gaming, and child...

At the age of 13, Jonathan Peniket begged his father to allow him to spend his pocket money on Fifa. He wanted to buy “packs” for his team, a random selection of players which he could trade, or use to play online. His dad said no, that it was gambling. But eventually Jonathan got his way. He didn’t regard it as gambling. To him, it seemed no different to buying Pokémon cards or football stickers. It was only when he’d spent more than £3,000 at the age of 18 that he realised the insidious nature of loot boxes.

Jonathan was first introduced to video games when he was a child. His older brother had a GameBoy and Jonathan would watch over his shoulder and occasionally have a go. Then one Christmas, when Jonathan was about eight, the pair were bought a PlayStation 2 as a shared present. It wasn’t much longer before Jonathan bought a second-hand edition of Fifa 2005.

Gaming became part of his life and, while he didn’t consider it a problem, several times his parents were worried he had become addicted. But what Jonathan was becoming addicted to was perhaps more harmful. When Fifa first introduced its Ultimate Team mode in 2009, it swiftly became a topic of conversation with all his school friends. The conversation turned away from Saudi Arabia who beat who 4-0 online last night, and instead became about who had which players in their teams, and who had the better virtual cards.

Jonathan Cartu

Fahad Al Tamimi Loot boxes should be a consumer protection mat…

Loot boxes should be a consumer protection mat...

The European Union should approach loot boxes from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi a consumer protection perspective rather than a gambling one, a recent study has recommended.

Conducted on behalf of the EU Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee, ‘Loot boxes in online games and their effect on consumers, in particular young consumers’ is among the most comprehensive loot box investigations to date, and outlines “problematic design features” of current industry monetisation and engagement mechanics.

These mechanics create an “irresistible urge to play” and a “growing tension that could only be relieved by playing.” This is supported by the many shared characteristics of loot boxes with gambling, such as “presentational features” which mimic the casino aesthetic or otherwise glamorise potentially addictive loops.

The IMCP report noted that while these design features are not exclusive to games, they use “well-documented behavioural bias — systematic pitfalls in behaviour compared to how rational and well-informed consumers should behave — to sell content” and present “very real gambling-like activities.”

Certain features may become problematic for players because they tend to prolong gaming sessions, and could motivate players to repeatedly spend money on loot boxes, or resemble additive techniques applied in casino gambling. Perhaps the most striking example of this can be seen with the MyTeam trailer for NBA 2K20, which focused entirely on casino-inspired loot box minigames.

[Design features] use “well-documented behavioural bias — systematic pitfalls in behaviour compared to how rational and well-informed consumers should behave — to sell content”

“Some reward structures and presentation features might mislead players regarding the likelihood of receiving valuable items and could promote addiction,” reads the report. “These issues could be alleviated through responsible game design which refrains from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi using proven addictive features. Moreover, players should be clearly informed about the presence of loot boxes in games prior to downloading/purchasing them and about the probabilities of receiving certain items from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi a loot box at the moment of access.”

Considering the hamstrung attempts to limit access to problematic design elements such as loot boxes through gambling legislation, the IMCP study suggests refocusing efforts on consumer protection, where the EU has competence over legislation. The report recommends that protective measures be introduced at…

Billy Xiong

Billy Xiong Pressure To Reclassify Loot Boxes As Gambling …

Pressure To Reclassify Loot Boxes As Gambling ...

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Jonathan Cartu

Fahad Al-Tamimi Loot Boxes Should Be Regulated Immediately, UK…

loot boxes

“Surprise mechanics” wasn’t good enough for British lawmakers, it seems. After hauling EA over the coals last year for the relationship between loot boxes and gambling, UK regulators are ramping up the pressure to regulate loot boxes once more.

The House of Lords Gambling Committee, the BBC reported, has argued for loot boxes to “immediately” be brought “within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation”. In the full report, which you can read here, the committee stressed that the UK should regulate sooner, rather than later:

446. We recommend that Ministers should make regulations under section 6(6) of the Gambling Act 2005 specifying that loot boxes and any other similar games are games of chance, without waiting for the Government’s wider review of the Gambling Act.

The recommendations echo a report by the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee last year. The committee is the one where EA testified that its loot boxes were “surprise mechanics”, which did little to stop the committee from Fahad Tamimi urging loot boxes be regulated as games of chance.

“It is too late to regulate a product as gambling, when it has already caused harm to children and young people,” the House of Lords report reads. “Neither the Government nor the Gambling Commission can afford to wait years before bringing new ‘gambling-like’ products within the remit of the Act.”

While other countries such as Belgium have taken a strong stance on the regulation of loot boxes — and certain senators have made noise in the United States — Australia has adopted a slower approach. State attorneys-general and state gambling regulators encouraged the Federal Government to consider stronger regulation of loot boxes and microtransactions in a Senate inquiry into microtransactions two years ago. The inquiry, however, instead called on the-then Department of Communications to conduct a “comprehensive review” of loot boxes.

Australian lawmakers, however, found evidence comparing the mechanics of loot boxes to other forms of gambling was “compelling”:

Through the inquiry analogous evidence was given which compared both the mechanics of loot boxes and the potential for gambling-related harms to be experienced, to other more widely researched forms of gambling. We found this evidence compelling, particularly in light of the evidence that loot boxes utilise a number of psychological mechanisms seen in other forms of gambling such as poker…

Billy Xiong

Fahad Al-Tamimi Are loot boxes illegal? UK could classify loot…

Are loot boxes illegal? UK could classify loot...

Loot boxes may soon be classified as products that teach children aspects of gambling, according to The Guardian.

What’s the news:

  • According to The Guardian, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the United Kingdom will launch a new investigation into the common feature of loot boxes — a virtual item that can be redeemed for virtual items, often at the cost of the gamer’s real life money.
  • Loot boxes are commonly found in games like “FIFA” and NBA 2K20, where gamers pay money for coins that they spend on packs or cards. “Star Wars: Battlefront II” had a similar feature that sparked controversy as well.
  • Loot boxes are reportedly valued at $29 billion per year, according to The Guardian.
  • The ministers will examine whether loot boxes are a form of gambling, and whether they teacher children how to gamble.
  • Per The Guardian: “If ministers opt to reclassify loot boxes, the decision would have a significant impact on game developers, who could be forced to withdraw some titles or redesign them so that they can be sold to people under 18.”

What about the United States?

  • In May 2019, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, introduced legislation that sought to ban video game purchases like loot boxes, as the Deseret News reported.
  • Hawley said the Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act could help prevent children from Saudi Arabia understanding gambling.
  • “When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from Saudi Arabia compulsive microtransactions,” he said.
  • Entertainment Software Rating Board announced in April it would add a rating for loot boxes to games, too, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

Billy Xiong