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https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2019/05/08/new-microtransactionloot-box-bill-could-devastate-video-game-publishers-if-it-passes/#7602bc24676f
Can't imagine it passes. I'm personally very unsympathetic to the "it could cut 50%% of EA's live-service revenue" argument.

Perhaps the most surprising element of this, to me anyway, is that it's being proposed by a mid-western Republican.

Anyway, seems like this is going to be a thing for a while. The more the industry relies on this, the more likely it will be that legislation is inevitable.

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I'd be okay with banning Pay to Win, but Loot Boxes are worded vaguely enough that it would apply to things like online trading card games.

Also, despite the subject line, this isn't a bill to ban microtransactions, it's a bill to ban specifically manipulative elements of it like Pay to Win or Loot Boxes.

Posted May 8th by Xhin
Xhin
Nature is beautiful

they shouldn't be abused as a design element, but I don't think they should be outright banned either

how about we ban "blind box" collectibles instead

Posted May 8th by Pirate_Ninja

I'm personally very unsympathetic to the "it could cut 50% of EA's live-service revenue" argument.


Yea, I'm of a "so what" attitude toward this. That 50% isn't exactly being invested back into the games or their staff given that they keep laying off staff every year despite increasing profits and increasing bonuses for those at the top.

but Loot Boxes are worded vaguely enough that it would apply to things like online trading card games.


Crazy idea... But... Why not just sell the game and let you earn the cards by playing the game, it could still be completely random... Crazy right? If they really wanted to earn extra cash they could just sell an "unlock everything" option for each expansion pack or something. In fact many of the online/digital card games actually give you currency that you can then use to buy packs.

Just because physical cards games have traditionally offered cards that way doesn't mean digital versions have to. Aside from the obvious easy money, physical card games also don't really have a viable option for distributing "rewards for playing" whereas a digital card game does.

So yea, there is no reason you would have to exclude online trading card games from the same rules as other games for loot boxes.

Posted May 8th by Moonray
Moonray
 


they shouldn't be abused as a design element, but I don't think they should be outright banned either

how about we ban "blind box" collectibles instead


All that this would ban is using real money to acquire them. They could still be included (as they were long before they became microtransactions) without needing you to spend real money.

Posted May 8th by Moonray
Moonray
 

I would love it if something was done to kill the money-grubbing bullshit that abusive gambling mechanics and DLC-farming represent. Hell, I want another industry crash to drive out all of the casuals and corporations.

We should not buy pre-orders, low-effort re-releases, season passes and games that are chopped up into a hundred DLCs. By doing so, we are helping soulless corporations create and normalize an environment where actually getting the full experience of a game requires hundreds of dollars worth of aggressive, intrusive monetization.

The fifth and sixth generation of game consoles fucking boomed without any need for this shit. But they found out that they could do shit like cut finished content for later sale and they could get away with it. It's only going to get worse as they brew up even more ways to further entice the mass of gamer degens into hemorrhaging money to stay current and relevant in the next big AAA game.

There is literally nothing wrong with torrenting games from these people. It should become a standard, actually. They would still turn a profit just from whales alone, given that the full ride for the average AAA piece of shit is easily twice as expensive as the entry fee for people that just want to play the base game. It's just that they wouldn't turn the most unbelievably, astronomically huge profit that exponentially increases on a quarterly basis - which is what their goal is. This is why they put so much effort into propagandizing and astroturfing about how you are hurting the developers, when they are actually abusing the shit out of the developers, the good will of the public and the economy so they can make another pile of gold coins into which they may dive like Scrooge Mc-fucking-Duck.

Posted May 8th by Cruinn-Annuin

I am against a ban of any kind, with the argument being that if lootboxes are what people are willing to buy then we should allow competent adults to make their own decisions. Lootboxes suck, but absolutely none of the games in my collection (excepting Team Fortress 2, if that counts) have that. The reason for this is because, or so I tell myself, that I have better taste than that. To use a phrase that I'm sure many of you are tired of, I vote with my wallet. It doesn't matter if no one else does. It doesn't matter that these scummy practices lower the quality of many allegedly AAA games. It doesn't even matter that some people apparently spend an irresponsible amount of money on transient digital goods. The transaction is an honest one, and is not seriously a detriment to the public good. A ban is therefore not justifiable.

Posted May 8th by Famov

I am in favor of banning shit we don't want that's taking over the world.

Posted May 8th by mariomguy

people are willing to buy then we should allow competent adults to make their own decisions


I think the main reason for the bill proposal, so far as I understand, is that these things are often trying to capitalize on the fact that many players are *not* competent adults that are really able to make their own decisions, especially financial. From what I've read, the primary concern is that there are a lot of children playing these games, and that some of these practices are rather designed to capitalize and take advantage of that.


Personally, I feel similarly to it as I do gambling, which is almost an easier situation because children aren't really allowed to go into a casino and sit at a pachinko machine. But a lot of casinos are implementing practices designed to either foster or capitalize on addiction. I think that fundamentally calls into question the legitimacy of the "honest transaction" argument.

(I updated the subject line to be a little more accurate.)

Posted May 8th by Jet Presto

I'd be okay with banning Pay to Win, but Loot Boxes are worded vaguely enough that it would apply to things like online trading card games.


This and some other things it might be lumped in with. Which, may not necessarily be a bad thing though because the things that could be lumped in with it may tend to have manipulative tactics to get you to spend money on it that closely resemble gambling over and over but idk.

Posted May 8th by Knuckles4099

Such a double standard. I've played Yugioh since I was 12 and when you buy packs, guess what, the results of what you pull are entirely random and all kinds of kids play that game. But no one is moving to force Konami to sell all their cards individually or in starter decks where it's clear whats in the deck.

Edited May 8th by Renzokuken

You can play those card games with only the starter kits. The individual cards are more for collectors. At least that's how Pokemon is set up.

More and more games are relying on microtransactions to make up for the fact that costs are skyrocketing and the $60 price tag is not enough. You also have this very unequal divide between the games that are successful and the majority of games that are not. A lot of studios start up, become very successful, and then fail when they can't retain their employees (many of them highly skilled and highly trained). You're either an indie dev taking small risks and earning small rewards, or part of a AAA machine that seems to make money no matter what. Very few games are actually good products in their own right, immensely ambitious, AND immensely successful.

Posted May 8th by mariomguy

No but they have expensive cards because of rarity which would be impossible if they sold all the cards on their own and let everyone have access to buying them. It's gambling when you open yugioh packs.

Edited May 8th by Renzokuken

OK. There are games now where you have to pay in order to succeed. It's not like that with trading cards. Many starter packs even display the best card face out through the box. If you want to purchase an expansion pack you can, optionally, and maybe find more interesting cards, but it's definitely not necessary to play or beat the games: those are more for collectors who want to get certain kinds of cards or fans who want certain kinds of Pokemon.

That's not what gaming microtransactions are. There are pain points put into games to get you to pay to make the game better. Loot boxes are basically gambling with real money for virtual items, and the worst offenders make it very clearly much easier to win by paying more.

This is not DLC. This is not an expansion pack. And this is not what gaming is supposed to be about.

Posted May 8th by mariomguy

I'm not talking about pokemon cards. I'm talking about yugioh. And yes, if you want to be competitive, often the rarest card in the set is essential to the tier one metagame. So your options are buy endless packs and hope you get lucky or spend often upwards of 100-150 dollars for a single copy, and in a few metagames I've seen over 300 dollars for one copy. And then Konami bans the cards that make that card good, and reprints it as a common a year later. It's predatory. It's literally pay to win in the purest sense. You pay and Konami wins.

Pokemon is different. I didn't even play pokemon and I still collected the cards. Was Charizard even very good in the original pokemon tcg? Or was he just rare because he was awesome?

Edited May 8th by Renzokuken

OK. There are games now where you have to pay in order to succeed. It's not like that with trading cards.


It might not be like that for every TCG, but every one of them that I have seen have had tier lists, weird rarity curves and overpowered combos that rise in price exponentially.

I've been poking around in Magic: The Gathering for a while and it's definitely like that. Eldrazi cards, the Power Nine, etc.

Sure, you could theoretically beat a deck built around those cards with a basic deck. The same way that a paraplegic with a derringer could technically beat Mike Tyson with an AK-47.

Even not involving the overpowered shit, building a specific MtG deck costs a significant amount of money. Yes, you could buy a box of 1000 cards wholesale for like $20, but you're going to get a box of shit and you're probably not going to find the vast majority of those useful. Actually having a deck built around your style requires you to pick specific cards, work on your deck composition and buy those cards through a hobby shop, private deals or online orders. For instance, a decent Eldrazi deck runs into the hundreds of dollars.

Posted May 8th by Cruinn-Annuin

Yu Gi Oh does not sound like a fun TGC if finding rare cards is the only way to play.

The holographic Charizard I think had the highest HP of any Pokemon in the first gen packs, and one of the most powerful attacks. 120 HP, and Fire Spin deals 100 damage. Standard ability is all energy becomes fire energy. So, even though the attack requires 4 energy and discarding two of them, it doesn't matter what energy you use.

It sure is powerful, but I can't say it's an OP card. There are too many Achilles' Heels for it to be OP. You need a LOT of energy, which means a lot of time will be spent on that. If Charizard is asleep, confused, or paralyzed, anything that isn't fire energy stops working. When you attack it will take a couple turns to regain enough power to attack again. But if your entire deck is rigged to play as Charizard under best possible conditions, that deck be madness!

Posted May 9th by mariomguy

In it's current state yugioh isn't very fun actually. But it used to be.

Posted May 9th by Renzokuken

charizard was both the first holographic card my friend got, and the last card I needed to complete the original set. Fun coincidence :J

OK. There are games now where you have to pay in order to succeed. It's not like that with trading cards.
p sure that Johnny Starterbox is going to get reliably demolished by a similar player who buys boosters to get other cards. Not only because he'll have access to more and better cards, but because he'll literally have a list of Johnny's cards and be able to specifically prepare for them if so inclined.

Posted May 9th by Pirate_Ninja

Yu Gi Oh does not sound like a fun TGC if finding rare cards is the only way to play.


It has been well over a decade since Ive played the game. So I am not sure how much it has changed. But from my experience rare cards werent needed to play the game. But I am sure a lot of the cards I am familiar with are no longer in play/ banned/ or arent even relevant any more.

Posted May 9th by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 

Yugioh has changed, SOH, now Konami intentionally ensures that the metagame cards are the most expensive/rarest in the set. And you'd be right, a lot of old cards are either irrelevant, eratted to make them less good, or straight up banned.

Edited May 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Thats depressing.I still have an Obelisk: The Tormentor card in my Wallet In case I need to send some one back to the shadow realm for nostalgia purposes.

Edited May 9th by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 

I know nothing of the YGO TCG or its practices and am not gonna defend them, but it does seem logical for rarity/strength/desirability to be somewhat in proportion to each other.

Posted May 9th by Pirate_Ninja

Okay but then Konami nerfs or bans the cards a year later, reprints them as commons, and you just wasted 100s of dollars and then they release more stupidly rare expensive better cards in another set and the cycle begins again. Your cards becoming obsolete and worthless in the process after you just spent a fuck tonne on them. And some people gamble by buying packs and never pull the good cards.

I'd be fine with good cards being slightly more expensive if I could buy them outright at a reasonable price. But when one card is over 100 dollars, and it's not even for collectable reasons, that's not reasonable. Like at all.

Edited May 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I blame EA.

Posted May 9th by Q
Q
 

More and more games are relying on microtransactions to make up for the fact that costs are skyrocketing and the $60 price tag is not enough.


And yet, indie games made with unity do just fine on 20-30$ one-time purchases. Given the sheer amount of nostalgia present in the game industry, it would make sense for big-budget publishers to instead spend money on making a game in an older standard -- you could make something like FF7 a looooot cheaper these days, and it would sell too.

OK. There are games now where you have to pay in order to succeed. It's not like that with trading cards.


Man, it's totally like that with magic the gathering. If you want to play in tournaments, it can cost upwards of 1000$ to build a deck -- if you just want to play with friends, it takes a looooot of boosters to assemble something playable and then a decent amount of collecting specific cards to build something wortwhile. Though at least you won't have a huge disadvantage -- you haven't bought the 300$ card you need to complete your deck, but your friends haven't either so it's okay.


Posted May 9th by Xhin
Xhin
Nature is beautiful

More and more games are relying on microtransactions to make up for the fact that costs are skyrocketing and the $60 price tag is not enough.


This is not accurate at all. It's a blatant lie from the companies doing all this shit and a lot of people are eating it up. You just have to look at the massive profits these companies are making to realise how much of a lie it is.

There's also the fact that there are companies out there who aren't relying on microtransactikns and yet are somehow managing to stay in business.

I would say the real problems are that big companies like EA are wasting a lot of money with poor management of projects and are mostly just looking to increase their profits rather than sustain them. If they can't afford to make a game at the same price as other companies they should look internally to see what they are doing wrong.

Posted May 9th by Moonray
Moonray
 

The trading card comparison is absolutely valid. You buy packs hoping to get something that you want. Most of it is chaff, and is worth far less on the secondary market than what you paid for it. There is a rather small chance of getting one or two cards of actual value, but often your 3 bucks (or whatever a pack typically costs these days) nets a return of cards worth significantly less than a dollar. Roll enough dice and your "luck" will resemble the mathematical probabilities that were built into the game. Better yet, most of the big trading card games are explicitly aimed at children and teens. In order to remain competitive against your peers in, say, a comic shop, you have to spend an insane amount of money.

I really do find MtG fascinating, but I could never justify the buy in price, and as someone that understands the math for what it is I find the notion of blindly buying card packs to be frankly nauseating. But on the other hand, Magic is also a very good game and people love to play it. The law does not need to get involved to save us from our own decisions. Having the freedom to make these choices is what makes life worth living. The more we take away, even as we do so under the guise of protecting children or the financially deranged, the more we create a plastic society that no one actually wants, aside from moralizing busy-bodies that would probably hate to see their own life decisions so scrutinized.

I think the main reason for the bill proposal, so far as I understand, is that these things are often trying to capitalize on the fact that many players are *not* competent adults that are really able to make their own decisions, especially financial. From what I've read, the primary concern is that there are a lot of children playing these games, and that some of these practices are rather designed to capitalize and take advantage of that.

Children have parents. They can't buy anything without their parents money, especially from a digital store where you're most likely paying in credit. That's enough of a protection, I should think, especially since if these kids do have their parents credit cards then that's a problem for mom and dad, rather than the state.

I think that fundamentally calls into question the legitimacy of the "honest transaction" argument.

Not unless you change the definition of the word "honest". Slot machines and scratch-off tickets offer exactly what they advertise, a chance to win money. There is nothing dishonest about that. The only lie is the one that people tell themselves when they misunderstand the fundamentals of how games of chance work: i.e., Continuing to buy in does not increase the likelihood of each subsequent game ending with a positive outcome. That is logical and easy to understand. The failure to understand this is not the result of any deception at the hands of gambling institutions, let alone video game lootboxes.

Posted May 9th by Famov

More and more games are relying on microtransactions to make up for the fact that costs are skyrocketing and the $60 price tag is not enough.

The problem is, you don't really own digital content when you buy it. I would prefer that a more expensive physical version that includes all the added stuff on disk be an option. You can't lend or sell dlc away. It's worthless.

I'm fine with paying the 170 dollars or whatever COD costs these days for the fries and gravy edition, but I want all of that shit on my fucking disk. So that when I resell it after I'm sick of it, the disk isn't worth 5 bucks because it only includes the incomplete base game. Leaving me stuck with 60 fucking dollars of worthless dlc.

Edited May 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

More and more games are relying on microtransactions to make up for the fact that costs are skyrocketing and the $60 price tag is not enough.[/hide]

My first thought is, are we really going try to make a compelling case that we as consumers should be charged *more* for a game?

Second thought is, ok, but no one is making these developers invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the games they're developing. EA could totally publish a Star Wars game at a fraction of the cost of Battlefront II and sell a bunch of copies and make money.

Third thought is...is this even a mathematically true statement? Like, GTA5 had a budget of $265 million. It sold 90 million copies. So, if even just half of those copies sold were purchased at the full $60 price tag, that's what, like $2.7 *billion* dollars in revenue? So... GTA5 could have had a new price tag of $10 and they'd still have netted double their budget.

Ok, so GTA5 is one of the best selling video games of all time (I believe it is *the* best selling, right?) That's the exception. It can be a little tricky finding the actual budget for development for most games. From what I understand, Tomb Raider had a budget of about $100 million, and it sold about 6 million copies. So if even if just half of those were purchased at the $60 price tag, they'd still net a profit. Red Dead Redemption cost between $80 and $100 million and sold 15 million copies. So, again, even if just a fraction were sold at $60, they'd still net a profit. Gears of War 3 cost up to $60 million and sold 3 million copies in its first week, so even if they didn't make any other sales whatsoever, they'd still have netted a profit.

Even the busts often wind up making money. Mass Effect: Andromeda cost about $76 million and sold 2.5 million copies. Underperforming the expectations (on top of its critical failure), at a $60 price point, that's still about $150 million in return revenue. (These numbers aren't going to be exact due to the sort of secrecy to the industry. See, with movies, we get to see what the budget is. For some reason, this isn't always true with video games, so it can be difficult to find an accurate estimate of the cost. Not to mention, obviously, not everyone buys a copy right when it comes out and at that $60 price point. And to top it all off, a lot of the copies sold data I could find didn't necessarily include digital sales.)

So, the TL;DR - I'm not entirely sure I buy the argument that the $60 price point is *not enough* to cover the growing costs of game development, which are primarily so exorbitant by the developer's own choices.



Posted May 9th by Jet Presto

My first thought is, are we really going try to make a compelling case that we as consumers should be charged *more* for a game?

Price tag cost of a video game did not go up in 50 years. The answer to that question is YES. People should also be paid more, though.

These numbers aren't going to be exact due to the sort of secrecy to the industry.

So, someone released a breakdown of what goes into the cost of a video game. Publisher and console licensing fees take up a pretty significant portion, not to mention engine licensing or development.

What I'm concerned about is not how well the large AAA titles sell, but the vast majority of games that are not AAA budget.

Posted May 9th by mariomguy

I'm willing to pay more if it means they pay their staff more, but when you look at the revenue many of these companies are earning, it's hard to believe that they need us as consumers to pay more in order to make that happen.

And you don't address the idea that studios could be spending less on their development if costs are going up and the $60 price tag is not enough to recoup that. If that's the case, then they have two options: increase the cost (which could reduce the sales), or reduce the budgets (which, for the not AAA developers, probably won't make that much of a difference).



Not unless you change the definition of the word "honest".


Ah, yeah. See, I tend to think of moral integrity as being part of honesty. I don't think actively trying to target children and addicts, or intentionally designing sales that foster addiction are really "honest." So. I can see why you think it would be "honest" to build a business around taking advantage of people.

Posted May 10th by Jet Presto

Again, success in gaming has tipped the scales to favor only AAA big-budget titles. Small budgets just don't sell on consoles, which is why games are simultaneously getting smaller and larger, but not filling the gaps in-between. It was very common during the GCN + PS2 + Xbox era for games with small teams of 15-30 people to sell just as well as big-budget AAA titles with dev teams exceeding 50. Nowadays games have teams in the hundreds and more frequently indie devs with 1-3 people. The small team dynamic is dwindling because those kinds of games don't sell well enough.

THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS, but I'm talking in general here, guys.

Posted May 11th by mariomguy

Small teams just need to price their games in the same 40-50 dollar range as they did in the ps2/xbox/gamecube days.

Like think about it. Do those South Park RPGs really need to cost the same as the newest Assassin's Creed at launch? Their production costs are astronomically lower. Bring it out at 40 bucks. It worked for A Hat in Time, It worked for Yooka Laylee, it worked for Life is Strange.

Edited May 11th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

The problem is manifold: AAA games make tons and tons of sales while smaller games definitely do not. So ironically, AAA games that are successful can afford to budget price their titles. But small teams frequently go bankrupt when their small games don't perform as well.

Posted May 12th by mariomguy

Well their small games certainly won't perform well if they price them at standard AAA prices.

Posted May 12th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

The more we take away, even as we do so under the guise of protecting children or the financially deranged, the more we create a plastic society that no one actually wants, aside from moralizing busy-bodies that would probably hate to see their own life decisions so scrutinized.


I mean I always play free to play in similar things anyway if possible. Though I never really necessarily advocated banning, I would prefer to pay for such games up front actually. I don't think a society would be worse off for things having more fixed prices for the things you want and sometimes things that you require to play a game adequately and thus for some people that is required to be able to have fun with it. It's more about fun and not fun for what you're willing to pay for and what games could be if they didn't do this than anything. And obviously game companies and related are never going to stop doing this entirely, in fact the practice may continue to spread and thus possibly even ruin more games with the system all because of greed. So tell me were that to happen and it were to make a series you like much less enjoyable on average would you still be making this same argument? Yes whoever owns the games's choice what they do with their game and so on but surely it matters to you at least somewhat. This isn't just involving le "sjws".

Edited May 13th by Knuckles40903
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