It felt like yesterday when the huge revelation came upon the video game industry and its publishers: lootbox microtransactions has gone way too far. The controversy stirred by Battlefront II, Need For Speed Payback and NBA 2K18 has riled everyone up. They’ve been riled up for a year now.
Chris Lee, a Hawaii representative, noticed such commotion. He has expressed his opinions about predatory practices from EA. He has also spoken against other games from multiple publishers and platforms including Android and iOS. Belgium followed this example. Thus they’ve made it clear since April this year that video game lootboxes are to be strictly regarded as illegal gambling.
The defiant ones
Much to their hubris, EA and 2K seem defiant against Belgium’s new law, with 2K suggesting people in Belgium contact their representatives for a repeal somehow.
EA, on the other hand, considers themselves clean since they’ve stated they have done nothing wrong to elicit their game’s lootbox system being illegal. They are now currently under investigation for criminal charges by the Belgium government.
Plausible deniability or not, Netherlands have also followed suit and are thus setting a bigger example for other countries to follow. Blizzard and Valve have fully complied with both Belgium and Netherlands.
Need a second opinion?
Today’s gaming industry has reached a far greater market than movies and television combined. However, we’re still not sure if this was the best outcome. Especially since most of the finances of big companies come from treating games as services.
Lootbox gambling has been on the rise since 2017, starting all from Counter-Strike Go, Overwatch to now Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. It wasn’t over a year ago since CS Go Lotto controversy made the FTC in the US file major complains before Valve reached a settlement. Though in irony, Valve actually had the knowledge of the gambling fiasco before it reached public eyes.
Even though games are expensive to make nowadays, The Witcher 3 was one of the bestselling RPGs with the developers being opposed to monetary services. Games like Titanfall 2 were also praised for their DLC system. Players in-game weren’t purchasing any convoluted means to have in-game advantages that could seem invasive.
So the bottom line is…
It’s bad enough that mobile games are far egregious with these practices making it unbearable for enjoying quality content from app stores, let alone games. AAA titles the likes of Shadow of War which is a single-player game also had a microtransaction system of its own. Contrary to where multi-player ones are rife with such an integration.
A Reddit user by the name Kensgold revealed that he has spent 10,000 USD on in-app purchases including CS: GO. Before that, there have been multiple instances where children used their parent’s credit cards to purchase digital goods where they’ve had to later asked the publisher for refunds as it wasn’t to their consent. Including most of the games from EA.
So what should it take to make these two juggernauts of publishers to give in among others, as they’ve bitten more than they should chew? Should we keep living under the umbrella of this silver lining?