No matter how you want to slice it, microtransaction & loot boxes is a form of digital gambling.
Many that are addicted to this form of monetitization will not admit it and publishers will fight tooth and nail to justify this business model. Nevertheless, one can not deny that you could spend thousands of dollars/euros on a system/gacha to try and get something specific, only to still don’t get it. That is gambling in it’s purity and the government is now stepping in to shut it down with The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act.
According to Josh Hawley, the Republican Freshman Senator from Missouri, who proposed a bill regulating loot boxes states:
Loot Boxes: Microtransactions offering randomized or partially randomized rewards to players
Pay-to-Win: Manipulation of a game’s progression system – typically by building artificial difficulty or other barriers into game progression – to induce players to spend money on microtransactions to advance through content supposedly available to them at no additional cost
Pay-to-win – Manipulation of the competitive balance between players of multiplayer games by allowing players who purchase microtransactions competetive advantages over other players.
He’s essentially proposing for the government to enforce a new bill that prohibits these types of game from been sold to minors. Great! For years, I have been an advocate against games that have vicious microtransactions and lootboxes, so I’m for this new bill. I fully understand that many publishers and developers have built their business plan around this model and if this bill were to be passed, could impact them severely but that’s of little concern to me.
Lootboxes have never been welcomed in the gaming community for years and we’ve only just recently tolerated them as after the massive backlash that followed with Star Wars Battlefront 2, things started to simmer down a bit. If not slightly. Now, they’re slowly creeping back up and it’s getting worse. These publishers are trying to argue that lootboxes are “fun”, but the only thing fun about the is the gambling aspect of them. The unhealthy thrill of spending money after money in hopes of possibly getting the item that you want. If that doesn’t sound like gambling then I don’t know what to tell you.
I remember back that the EU was also already planning to interject and propose their own legislation to punish these types of digtial gambling in games so maybe with the US finally deciding to step in, this can get things started and we can finally put this dark phase of gaming to rest. I’d much rather pay €80 – €100 (Honestly, games are getting close to this price range anyways) for a complete package than have something locked away for a CHANCE of getting something on top of paying the €60 price tag.
This will also affect the mobile games scene too which is a great as that section of gaming is riddled with gacha that abuse it to kingdom come. If this bill causes these types of gacha games to seize to exist then I’m perfectly fine with it.