Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have pledged to enforce a fairer system for video game loot boxes by companies such as EA, Ubisoft and Activision for any games on their consoles.
In a bold move in favour of gambling restrictions in video games, major console manufacturers are to begin addressing the loot box issue in games released for their machines.
While an outright ban is not coming into effect, console manufacturers Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will require game developers to disclose to customers the probability of receiving a high-quality item when they purchase a loot box in any game for any of their systems.
While this isn’t a legal requirement, large game publishers such as Ubisoft, Activision and Electronic Arts have reportedly already agreed to changes to the loot box system.
The reason for the move comes as watchdogs and indeed parents all over the world are becoming concerned about the gambling aspect of loot boxes as well as the overspending that can occur as gamers try to get desired items.
Loot boxes are an in-game item that usually contains multiple items for a game with the chance of containing a rare and powerful item.
More often than not, the player usually receives numerous low-quality items as the odds of winning a rare item are evidently extremely low with no way of knowing what you are going to get.
The proposed new system will display a probability percentage of obtaining a particular item when purchasing and opening a loot box with the hopes of discouraging the gambling element of the loot box system.
For the past couple of years or so loot boxes have been both a source of controversy in the games industry and a source of frustration for gamers.
Electronic Arts, for example, employed a nefarious system to their loot box transactions that facilitated a “Pay to win” paradigm, something that they consequently removed after a tirade of angry complaints.
However, as these developers and publishers may seem to welcome these changes, it would be reasonable to suspect that they may secretly be reeling by the console manufacturers’ decisions.
Loot boxes earn a lot of money for particular games with EA’s FIFA Ultimate Team feature accounting for 28% of the company’s revenue in 2018 and according to a Juniper Research paper, the loot box and skin gambling system is projected to earn the industry $50 billion by 2022.
Even though I welcome the changes, I still think paid-for loot boxes have no place in modern video games and should be banned outright as Belgium has recently done so for games aimed at persons under the age of 18.
Loot boxes are indeed gambling and even while the odds may be disclosed, they are certain to be very low and I do not think this will discourage many children who may still not understand the system or indeed many gamers who may already be addicted to a loot box system.
Some of the systems already in place are insidious in nature and take an extreme departure from the usual system of DLC purchasing.
Star Trek Online, for example, has many talented designers and artists creating high-quality new starships on a regular basis.
However, in recent years only a handful have been released to purchase outright with some of the better ships only available via their expensive “lock box” system.
A troubling aspect of this recent news concerning the new system is that this seems to be a formal acknowledgment by the three console manufacturers that they approve of a developer’s right to include loot boxes.
To me, this is an indication that loot boxes are going to be around for a while so long as it is made clear that they are a gamble and until they are banned outright which I believe will never happen, they are here to stay.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
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Michael is the sole writer and owner at chartxgames.com.
Many thought that his youth (and adulthood) playing video games was a waste of time but here he is writing about them for a living.
Michael has a background in IT and enjoys (apart from video games) building and repairing PC’s, digital artwork (Photoshop, 3DS Max) and has interests in too many subjects to mention.