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Lootboxes, Microtransactions, and [Gambling in Gaming]

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Posts

  • Fartacus_the_MightyFartacus_the_Mighty Brought to you by the letter A.Registered User regular
    jothki wrote: »
    It's interesting to compare that sort of thing to the model of games like Diablo, where you're just sold the entire gambling apparatus up-front. Can that be considered to be still exploiting addiction?

    ...maybe? It'd kinda be like buying your own slot machine and setting it to free play, though.

    ThawmusKayne Red RobelazegamerShadowfireQuiddispatch.onever dieLord_AsmodeusshoeboxjeddyKristmas Kthulhu
  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    It's really weird looking back now, but way back when I started playing Magic in 1994, there was this idea among us kids that it was "cheating" to buy individual cards for your deck. You had to buy the packs and hope you got what you wanted or trade with someone.

    Martini_PhilosopherAntinumericMatevBullheadShadowfireBucketmannever die
  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    The concern I would have in that situation is that the person is playing their slot machine at home, where there's potentially nobody to notice if they get unhealthily obsessed with it. An actual casino is required to at least take action if they see somebody gambling too much.

    On the flipside, people seem to put hundreds of hours into something like Diablo (which I don't at all get) and still find it fun, so I think that's getting to a point where trying to split the "fun" from the "addictive gambling" is largely impossible.

    I don't think it would be productive to regulate something like Diablo on that basis, since the gambling component isn't just funneling money to the publishers and it's just not easy to pick out the people who might be addicted.

    EDIT: And something like Diablo also brings up roguelikes, since those frequently have win conditions that are outright impossible to achieve if the randomized start conditions aren't sufficiently favorable. You can potentially play those for hundreds of hours on the "gamble" of being able to win, but how much is "fun" and how much is "addiction"? I definitely don't know how to split those.

    Ninja Snarl P on
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    With Diablo, I'd say you're paying in time rather than money.
    Which is only a problem in say WoW, where the grind for gear drives people to play for far too long at the expense of all else (whilst also on subscription..).

    I think WoW is problematic, but Diablo not so much, and a large part of that is the multiplayer nature of the first.

    discrider on
    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    The concern I would have in that situation is that the person is playing their slot machine at home, where there's potentially nobody to notice if they get unhealthily obsessed with it. An actual casino is required to at least take action if they see somebody gambling too much.

    On the flipside, people seem to put hundreds of hours into something like Diablo (which I don't at all get) and still find it fun, so I think that's getting to a point where trying to split the "fun" from the "addictive gambling" is largely impossible.

    I don't think it would be productive to regulate something like Diablo on that basis, since the gambling component isn't just funneling money to the publishers and it's just not easy to pick out the people who might be addicted.

    EDIT: And something like Diablo also brings up roguelikes, since those frequently have win conditions that are outright impossible to achieve if the randomized start conditions aren't sufficiently favorable. You can potentially play those for hundreds of hours on the "gamble" of being able to win, but how much is "fun" and how much is "addiction"? I definitely don't know how to split those.

    If you have a slot machine at home, all you can waste is your time, not your money. Casinos have rules about this sort of thing so that people don't get financially ruined.

    Heffling
  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    The concern I would have in that situation is that the person is playing their slot machine at home, where there's potentially nobody to notice if they get unhealthily obsessed with it. An actual casino is required to at least take action if they see somebody gambling too much.

    On the flipside, people seem to put hundreds of hours into something like Diablo (which I don't at all get) and still find it fun, so I think that's getting to a point where trying to split the "fun" from the "addictive gambling" is largely impossible.

    I don't think it would be productive to regulate something like Diablo on that basis, since the gambling component isn't just funneling money to the publishers and it's just not easy to pick out the people who might be addicted.

    EDIT: And something like Diablo also brings up roguelikes, since those frequently have win conditions that are outright impossible to achieve if the randomized start conditions aren't sufficiently favorable. You can potentially play those for hundreds of hours on the "gamble" of being able to win, but how much is "fun" and how much is "addiction"? I definitely don't know how to split those.

    If you have a slot machine at home, all you can waste is your time, not your money. Casinos have rules about this sort of thing so that people don't get financially ruined.

    Yeah, and I think that's where the major division lies. Yes, you could still technically be addicted to gambling and do it at home, but the addiction would have to be really bad to be consuming so much of your time that it still disrupts your life even without the added financial ruin from doing it in a casino. That's not to say it's impossible, but there does have to be a limit somewhere and it's fairly safe to say that people should be free to spend their free time how they wish inside their home.

    And even then, if you buy a slot machine for free play at home and that's what you enjoy, that's no more a waste of time than watching sports or playing video games. If it's what you enjoy and it's not interfering with your life or health, then there's really nothing to regulate there.

  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Nobody wrote: »
    Yes, they're gambling. You're paying money to get a reward of variable value (getting useless dupes versus something useful/rare), and you don't know what you're getting beforehand. Just because a slot machine tells you the possible outcomes doesn't make it not gambling.

    I can guarantee that if Magic and the like was required to simply sell their cards as known packs and had to ditch booster packs/blind boxes, they'd make a hell of a lot less money because of all the people they wouldn't be able to exploit.

    I don't know if they still make/sell them, but for awhile (around 2006-ish) you could buy prepackaged winning tournament decks. That is to say, you could just buy the exact deck that [tournament winner] used to win his tournament.

    The catch, and I'm about 90% sure it failed to mention this on the box, is that every card had the winner's signature printed on its face. So basically it'd get you laughed out of a game during 5th grade recess, let alone anything more serious than that.

    Some of the decks also had different card backs from normal to render them invalid for tournament use

    Wow. That's pretty blatant as far as revealing the core of their business, ain't it.

    It opened up to many casual players the option to play very specific decks that could potentially include a number of high value rare cards that they would otherwise not have had access too. Their main revenue stream is from selling magic packs, so their desire to disallow these in the "professional" setting is understandable. Also, it prevents WotC from effectively taking over the secondary market simply by reprinting discontinued high value cards that could be easily obtained.

    I don't see this move as evil at all.

    It's literally a direct and abject demonstration that the entire point of the endeavor is to get you to gamble for cards.

    Why change the cardback other then to make you have to gamble for that set of cards via the normal system? Why invalidate the ability to just buy the deck outright?

    To not crash the secondary market? Pricing it at the actual market price wound end up with a retail product that was several hundred dollars. I've brought this up before but the difference between Magic and most online lootboxes is that if you want a specific card you can easily just buy it. Rarity is thus a way to push the average deck or set price up while keeping pack retail prices low.

    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
    mcdermott
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    Not crashing the secondary market is a poor reason to not move away from loot boxes.
    MtG could easily move all cards to common rarity in the next set release and not need to change Pro Tour backs containing those cards to preserve value.

    discrider on
    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
    Fry
  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    The concern I would have in that situation is that the person is playing their slot machine at home, where there's potentially nobody to notice if they get unhealthily obsessed with it. An actual casino is required to at least take action if they see somebody gambling too much.

    On the flipside, people seem to put hundreds of hours into something like Diablo (which I don't at all get) and still find it fun, so I think that's getting to a point where trying to split the "fun" from the "addictive gambling" is largely impossible.

    I don't think it would be productive to regulate something like Diablo on that basis, since the gambling component isn't just funneling money to the publishers and it's just not easy to pick out the people who might be addicted.

    EDIT: And something like Diablo also brings up roguelikes, since those frequently have win conditions that are outright impossible to achieve if the randomized start conditions aren't sufficiently favorable. You can potentially play those for hundreds of hours on the "gamble" of being able to win, but how much is "fun" and how much is "addiction"? I definitely don't know how to split those.

    Ehh, roguelikes would only be that if you spend currency per play. They are like any other single player game, input time, output potential satisfaction. And the better ones are ultimately fair regardless of absolute difficulty or random effects. Eg, the grand-daddies of the genre in the Hack branch are extremely fair. After a few minutes or so nearly every death is pretty much your fault - you pushed your luck too far, were careless, or rarely got amazingly unlucky. There are people who can sit down and beat every role in NetHack without dying 13 for 13

    Randomness in games isn't inherently bad and any randomized dungeon crawler is going to sometimes be easy and other times not

    Magic Box
    Academician Prokhor "Phyphor" Zakharov, Chief Scientist of China, Provost of the University of Planet - SE++ Megagame
  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Nobody wrote: »
    Yes, they're gambling. You're paying money to get a reward of variable value (getting useless dupes versus something useful/rare), and you don't know what you're getting beforehand. Just because a slot machine tells you the possible outcomes doesn't make it not gambling.

    I can guarantee that if Magic and the like was required to simply sell their cards as known packs and had to ditch booster packs/blind boxes, they'd make a hell of a lot less money because of all the people they wouldn't be able to exploit.

    I don't know if they still make/sell them, but for awhile (around 2006-ish) you could buy prepackaged winning tournament decks. That is to say, you could just buy the exact deck that [tournament winner] used to win his tournament.

    The catch, and I'm about 90% sure it failed to mention this on the box, is that every card had the winner's signature printed on its face. So basically it'd get you laughed out of a game during 5th grade recess, let alone anything more serious than that.

    Some of the decks also had different card backs from normal to render them invalid for tournament use

    Wow. That's pretty blatant as far as revealing the core of their business, ain't it.

    It opened up to many casual players the option to play very specific decks that could potentially include a number of high value rare cards that they would otherwise not have had access too. Their main revenue stream is from selling magic packs, so their desire to disallow these in the "professional" setting is understandable. Also, it prevents WotC from effectively taking over the secondary market simply by reprinting discontinued high value cards that could be easily obtained.

    I don't see this move as evil at all.

    It's literally a direct and abject demonstration that the entire point of the endeavor is to get you to gamble for cards.

    Why change the cardback other then to make you have to gamble for that set of cards via the normal system? Why invalidate the ability to just buy the deck outright?

    Getting you to gamble for cards is how the endeavor makes most of its money (and is certainly core to the business model), but it's not the only reason the game's internal market is set up that way.

    Notably Magic - like most similar card games - has game formats that are based on the random distribution of cards. Draft and sealed play are hugely popular, and would be impossible to play in an LCG format (one where you purchased fixed sets of cards rather than random packs) because the format is about finding the best, most effective way to play with a random pile of cards (and to sculpt the random pools of cards in your favor, in the case of draft).

    The ecosystem created by limited formats, constructed formats, the secondary market they create, and the way that secondary market induces retailers to create spaces to play and events to play in is complex, and dumping tournament-legal versions of all the most valuable rare cards into that environment in large quantities would disrupt a lot of things, to the detriment of many players, who likely already made a bunch of purchase decisions and got invested in their cards based on assumptions built around card values that you've suddenly wildly destabilized. It'd leave a lot of the people who actually participate in the game feeling cheated and disrupt a lot of the communities that have grown up around the game.

    That's not to say that the model isn't potentially predatory (it super is!), but it's nowhere near as simple as just saying 'champion decks with non-tournament cardbacks are proof that the whole thing is built on exploitation alone', and once the game's market existed in its current form the choice to keep those products from being tournament-legal is one that does just at least as much to protect its participants as it does to exploit them.

    It's worth noting that WotC discontinued the line because nobody bought them - which is arguably better evidence of the whole thing being a gambling edifice than if the champion decks themselves were actually exploitative. Because as much as magic players like to say that they hate how the collector aspect of the game gates people into spending too much money on it and they don't care about winning tournaments to get prizes and they'd rather just be able to buy the cards they need for the deck they want and play for fun...when you actually give them the opportunity to do that, they ignore it and keep buying the booster packs instead, because they do like the gambling aspect of opening random packs, and they do buy cards largely for the purpose of trying to use them to win more cards in tournaments, and they do value their collection and enjoy getting cards for it based on their market value, which is in turn determined entirely by the artificial scarcity the market is intentionally set up to create.

    They're not being forced by product randomization to participate in a slot machine when they'd rather just be playing a game, they're participating in the game in the first place because they want the slot machine inside it. If you give them ways to play without the slot machine, they do spend less money but it's not because the cost of playing the game goes down, it's because they stop playing.

    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    IncenjucarNSDFRandAntinumericMartini_PhilosopherShadowfireabotkinnever dieLord_AsmodeusAegeri
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    You also have the MtG designer then going on to make Keyforge, which has been rather specifically built to keep discovery of the unknown in, but keep pulling until you get everything out.

    discrider on
    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Magic could absolutely sell singles or fixed card packs. They'd still have random packs because you need those for certain game modes.

  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Magic could absolutely sell singles or fixed card packs. They'd still have random packs because you need those for certain game modes.

    I consider the limited/sealed formats a workaround to the lootboxes, rather than a format that needs preserving.
    Although, 'play with what you've got' is Keyforge's reason for being, so perhaps I need to rethink this.

    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    AridholFryDarkewolfe
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    Fry
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
    Descendant X
  • NSDFRandNSDFRand FloridaRegistered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    YMMV by state definitions of gambling and state court opinions on the tests of gambling.

    This argument did not work for Lawrence DiChristina.

    The 2nd Amendment is unarguably one of the most liberal, liberating and radical statements ever made in human history.
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    NSDFRand wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    YMMV by state definitions of gambling and state court opinions on the tests of gambling.

    This argument did not work for Lawrence DiChristina.

    http://www.gambling-law-us.com/State-Laws/New-York/
    MtG tournaments are illegal in New York
    (The breadth of these laws was remarked upon in the SC in the poker case too)

    I still think there is a marked difference between the level of chance involved in a game of MtG, and the opening of an MtG pack, and the removal of the latter does not have any bearing on the former.
    And when we're referring to gambling in this thread, we are talking about bets placed on random chance alone, as that is what's involved in opening a loot box.

    discrider on
    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    You don't control the outcome. You don't control which cards you draw, or in what order, or which cards your opponent draws. In a given game, totally random chance can easily give you a set of cards to use with which there is no possibly line of play you can take that will allow you to win. You can, by application of skill, tilt the outcome, but even the absolute best magic players in the world only win about 70% of their games in spite of outplaying their opponents 100% of the time. The game - by design - has an unavoidable and substantial element of chance.

    As for legal definitions, they will vary by state because a lot of gambling laws are managed at the state level, but there are many states in which games of skill with an element of chance are defined as gambling. Generally, states either use the predominance test (loosely, it's gambling if chance matters MORE than skill even if both matter) or the material element test (loosely, it's gambling if chance plays a material role in the outcome, even if that role is less than the role of skill). To my knowledge, none use a test that says it's gambling only if the outcome depends on chance exclusively.

    Magic unquestionably fails the material element test, and may or may not fail the predominance test (determining whether it does would require statistical analysis on a body of evidence that I don't have and which probably wouldn't be in-scope for the conversation anyway). It's legally gambling in some states, and legally arguable in most others, and either way you'll likely find that there are a lot more people who will colloquially consider games with similar skill/chance elements like poker and blackjack to be gambling than the other way around.

    Entering a Magic tournament involves risking a stake - your entry fee - for a chance at a prize. This creates excitement and investment in the outcome, which is what motivates most tournament players to participate in them. They are more excited to play the game than they otherwise would be, because the outcome of the game - in which random chance plays a significant role - determines whether they get a prize. Arguing over whether the outcome is random enough for players who are motivated by stakes and prizes to legally count as being motivated by gambling seems like splitting hairs.

    Magic players - as a whole - open packs because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and enter tournaments because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and buy expensive foil cards because the low odds of getting those cards as a prize make them a status symbol, and are proud of assembling extensive collections of rare cards for the same reason. A lot of what people value about what Magic is selling is rooted in excitement ultimately generated by the role of chance in their purchases, no matter how much they also complain when that chance swings against them.

    That's true of blind collectibles in general. We can argue back and forth about whether Magic tournaments are random enough to be gambling, but most blind collectibles don't have a game associated with them at all, and their purchases are driven by the same motivation - pins, licensed coin sets, vinyl figures, dog tag sets, whatever - all that's there is a set of things intentionally made random and artificially scarce, with the option to buy a chance at randomly getting a rare one. People buy a blind pack because they're excited for the chance to gamble on its contents, and they're proud of their rare items and collections because they were made rare by the gambling system. They're buying the gamble, the experience of the risk for a stake. Random chance isn't a gate to force people to spend more than they normally would on the product, it is the product. Even when people buy single collectibles to complete their collections or because they don't want to gamble for the rare thing and want to pay a fixed cost instead, most of what they're buying is the status of having the rare thing or the completed collection, and that status only exists because of the randomized and artificially scarce nature of distribution.

    Again, the question of whether that's predatory or not is different and depends on a ton of factors, but if your position is that Magic players don't buy packs for the fun of opening them and finding out what's inside that's not borne out by the evidence, and if your position is that selling blind packs of anything is inherently predatory, then your issue isn't really with Magic but with a huge swathe of all collectible products at a fundamental level.
    discrider wrote: »
    I still think there is a marked difference between the level of chance involved in a game of MtG, and the opening of an MtG pack, and the removal of the latter does not have any bearing on the former.

    It does, though. People buy the cards because they're fun to buy because buying them is gambling. People are motivated to play because theu have cards and the game is fun and their friends play and there are prizes of value they can win and a common place they can go to play. The prizes are valuable because they're rare and desirable. They're desirable because you can use them to win more prizes and they're rare because the artificial scarcity created by random distribution MAKES them rare. You eliminate the random element of the purchase, and people buy fewer cards because they're not as fun to buy. They play in fewer tournaments because they have fewer cards and the prizes aren't as valuable because they're not rare anymore because we've eliminated rarity as a concept. Now that fewer people are playing, people are less motivated to play because their friends don't play as much. The store their group was playing at closes down (or stops running events) because they can't make money on events anymore because attendance and participation is down, and now everyone is even less motivated to play because there aren't scheduled events or a common play space anymore. And now the one guy in the gaming group who really was in it just for the game has nobody to play with, because all of his friends were motivated in whole or in part by the conditions created by the gambling aspect of the game and have bailed to do something else, so even he stops buying cards, and then the game is done - much like Netrunner, your example of a successful LCG, is done.

    The relationship between how people get cards and how people play with their cards and what motivates them to do either of those things is a lot more interconnected and complex than you seem to believe.

    Abbalah on
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    You don't control the outcome. You don't control which cards you draw, or in what order, or which cards your opponent draws. In a given game, totally random chance can easily give you a set of cards to use with which there is no possibly line of play you can take that will allow you to win. You can, by application of skill, tilt the outcome, but even the absolute best magic players in the world only win about 70% of their games in spite of outplaying their opponents 100% of the time. The game - by design - has an unavoidable and substantial element of chance.

    As for legal definitions, they will vary by state because a lot of gambling laws are managed at the state level, but there are many states in which games of skill with an element of chance are defined as gambling. Generally, states either use the predominance test (loosely, it's gambling if chance matters MORE than skill even if both matter) or the material element test (loosely, it's gambling if chance plays a material role in the outcome, even if that role is less than the role of skill). To my knowledge, none use a test that says it's gambling only if the outcome depends on chance exclusively.

    Magic unquestionably fails the material element test, and may or may not fail the predominance test (determining whether it does would require statistical analysis on a body of evidence that I don't have and which probably wouldn't be in-scope for the conversation anyway). It's legally gambling in some states, and legally arguable in most others, and either way you'll likely find that there are a lot more people who will colloquially consider games with similar skill/chance elements like poker and blackjack to be gambling than the other way around.
    This is all irrelevant, because the 70% win rate is not a 50% win rate.
    You control part of the outcome, and to a significant degree, whereas lootboxes afford no such luxury.
    The lootboxes are most definitely gambling by both measures, as there is no ability to affect the outcome.
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Entering a Magic tournament involves risking a stake - your entry fee - for a chance at a prize. This creates excitement and investment in the outcome, which is what motivates most tournament players to participate in them. They are more excited to play the game than they otherwise would be, because the outcome of the game - in which random chance plays a significant role - determines whether they get a prize. Arguing over whether the outcome is random enough for players who are motivated by stakes and prizes to legally count as being motivated by gambling seems like splitting hairs.

    Magic players - as a whole - open packs because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and enter tournaments because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and buy expensive foil cards because the low odds of getting those cards as a prize make them a status symbol, and are proud of assembling extensive collections of rare cards for the same reason. A lot of what people value about what Magic is selling is rooted in excitement ultimately generated by the role of chance in their purchases, no matter how much they also complain when that chance swings against them.

    That's true of blind collectibles in general. We can argue back and forth about whether Magic tournaments are random enough to be gambling, but most blind collectibles don't have a game associated with them at all, and their purchases are driven by the same motivation - pins, licensed coin sets, vinyl figures, dog tag sets, whatever - all that's there is a set of things intentionally made random and artificially scarce, with the option to buy a chance at randomly getting a rare one. People buy a blind pack because they're excited for the chance to gamble on its contents, and they're proud of their rare items and collections because they were made rare by the gambling system. They're buying the gamble, the experience of the risk for a stake. Random chance isn't a gate to force people to spend more than they normally would on the product, it is the product. Even when people buy single collectibles to complete their collections or because they don't want to gamble for the rare thing and want to pay a fixed cost instead, most of what they're buying is the status of having the rare thing or the completed collection, and that status only exists because of the randomized and artificially scarce nature of distribution.

    Again, the question of whether that's predatory or not is different and depends on a ton of factors, but if your position is that Magic players don't buy packs for the fun of opening them and finding out what's inside that's not borne out by the evidence, and if your position is that selling blind packs of anything is inherently predatory, then your issue isn't really with Magic but with a huge swathe of all collectible products at a fundamental level.
    Rewards incentivise behaviours, yes.
    Competition doesn't require prizes to survive though, as lunchtime Magic would attest.
    And these competitions could as easily be incentivised with a money prize pool.

    Magic players buy cards because they want to play magic.
    Rarity only increases the price to play a competitive deck.

    Other blind lootboxes that are solely cosmetic in nature are less exploitative than Magic lootboxes purely because Magic cards have function.
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    I still think there is a marked difference between the level of chance involved in a game of MtG, and the opening of an MtG pack, and the removal of the latter does not have any bearing on the former.

    It does, though. People buy the cards because they're fun to buy because buying them is gambling. People are motivated to play because theu have cards and the game is fun and their friends play and there are prizes of value they can win and a common place they can go to play. The prizes are valuable because they're rare and desirable. They're desirable because you can use them to win more prizes and they're rare because the artificial scarcity created by random distribution MAKES them rare. You eliminate the random element of the purchase, and people buy fewer cards because they're not as fun to buy. They play in fewer tournaments because they have fewer cards and the prizes aren't as valuable because they're not rare anymore because we've eliminated rarity as a concept. Now that fewer people are playing, people are less motivated to play because their friends don't play as much. The store their group was playing at closes down (or stops running events) because they can't make money on events anymore because attendance and participation is down, and now everyone is even less motivated to play because there aren't scheduled events or a common play space anymore. And now the one guy in the gaming group who really was in it just for the game has nobody to play with, because all of his friends were motivated in whole or in part by the conditions created by the gambling aspect of the game and have bailed to do something else, so even he stops buying cards, and then the game is done - much like Netrunner, your example of a successful LCG, is done.

    The relationship between how people get cards and how people play with their cards and what motivates them to do either of those things is a lot more interconnected and complex than you seem to believe.

    I'm not sure how to weigh the combined harm of MtG lootboxes with the supported weight of all the continuing-to-exist Friendly Local Game Stores.
    Same with Pinny Arcade and PAX.

    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
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  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    I'm not aware of any state in the US that considers these things gambling. California at least, explicitly provides trading card packs as an example of something which does not fit the definition of gambling under state law.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=319.3.
    A “sports trading card grab bag” does not include a sweepstakes, or procedure for the distribution of any sports trading card of value by lot or by chance, which is not unlawful under other provisions of law.

    It may meet some of the various diagnostic standards of gambling, and surely meets some legal definitions in other jurisdictions.

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  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    Booster packs are literally a product produced through a procedure randomizing the content, which the consumer does not know the content of. Whoever wrote that is either ignorant of the buisness model or being deliberately misleading.

    It is no diffrent then a scratch off lottery ticket, the results of each ticket is preset before you buy it but you do not know the content of the ticket. There is a pool of magic or baseball cards created which is split into lots of packs by chance. Then you buy a pull of the lever with each pack.

    Even if companies have carved out specific exceptions for their specific gambling model, it is still gambling

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  • The WolfmanThe Wolfman Registered User regular
    So remember way back when Belgium declared lootboxes gambling, and most everybody got the fuck out of Belgium, except for EA who was determined to fight it so they could continue selling lootboxes?

    Well...

    https://eurogamer.net/articles/2019-01-29-ea-buckles-in-belgium-stops-selling-fifa-points-following-loot-box-gambling-pressure

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  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Quite the weasel words from EA, saying they disagree with Belgium's "interpretation" of the law.

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  • BethrynBethryn Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    RNG is a part of games in a lot of ways, and something like Diablo is only the tip of the iceberg. You would have extreme trouble legislating that games remove randomness. That humans enjoy measuring their predictions vs random outcomes is a known factor. We can't change that. What we can do is stop companies making sure that every single pull of the lever is not charged for, because that is monumentally more exploitative; the company has a direct and clear incentive to make sure people keep pulling that lever as often as possible. In the case of Diablo, they still do for the purposes of customer retention, but the return to them is significantly smaller, so less emphasis is placed on it.

    Though I have little doubt someone will blend the two, as mentioned 20 or so pages ago, and create a game where you pay money to do a dungeon equivalent and get randomised loot at the end of it, essentially being a loot box + play. Since this is essentially Draft mode in MTGA, Arena in Hearthstone (if you're paying with real money), etc. Generally, I still find this slightly harmful, but much less so, since it's harder to just buy 100 arena runs in 10 minutes and get nothing out of it, as opposed to booster packs or lootboxes where you can do exactly that and not get what you were looking for (or even close to crafting/trading for it in value, in some cases).

    But yeah, a shot in XCOM, a sector layout in FTL, a level layout in Slay the Spire, a dice roll in board or tabletop games, a hand in a game of poker amongst friends, even recoil in FPSes: all these things are people enjoying randomness in games. A full on ban would be immeasurably difficult to enforce, and the degrees of harm caused by these random events is much harder to prove than in the case of lootboxes.

    Bethryn on
  • Albino BunnyAlbino Bunny Bad Opinion Haver Registered User regular
    Getting into legal arguments is about the shallowest look at the overarching problem: That capitalism is very good at abusing people out of money and that games are exceptional vehicles for enabling this.

    There's no way to legislate away abusive design or it being profitable. Heck there's multiple entire genres that can be argued to be entirely reliant on it. Diablo and other loot driven games are great examples of a game whose entire design is to create a time vortex empty of anything except the hollow joy of numbers increasing.

    It's much more important to instead look critically at how common designing for abuse (of peoples time or money) is and both reward games that don't engage in that as well as helping people who are struggling because of it.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Nobody wrote: »
    Yes, they're gambling. You're paying money to get a reward of variable value (getting useless dupes versus something useful/rare), and you don't know what you're getting beforehand. Just because a slot machine tells you the possible outcomes doesn't make it not gambling.

    I can guarantee that if Magic and the like was required to simply sell their cards as known packs and had to ditch booster packs/blind boxes, they'd make a hell of a lot less money because of all the people they wouldn't be able to exploit.

    I don't know if they still make/sell them, but for awhile (around 2006-ish) you could buy prepackaged winning tournament decks. That is to say, you could just buy the exact deck that [tournament winner] used to win his tournament.

    The catch, and I'm about 90% sure it failed to mention this on the box, is that every card had the winner's signature printed on its face. So basically it'd get you laughed out of a game during 5th grade recess, let alone anything more serious than that.

    Some of the decks also had different card backs from normal to render them invalid for tournament use

    Wow. That's pretty blatant as far as revealing the core of their business, ain't it.

    It opened up to many casual players the option to play very specific decks that could potentially include a number of high value rare cards that they would otherwise not have had access too. Their main revenue stream is from selling magic packs, so their desire to disallow these in the "professional" setting is understandable. Also, it prevents WotC from effectively taking over the secondary market simply by reprinting discontinued high value cards that could be easily obtained.

    I don't see this move as evil at all.
    I'll also note that Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro sells a large variety of products in Magic: the Gathering that can be played in normal casual games of Magic (and while the current Standard rotation is set, in Standard tournaments as well) with set decklists and pre-set cards that aren't randomized. Most of the more recent sets have Planeswalker or Duel Decks where you can know ahead of time what cards are included. Last year also saw the release of Challenger Decks, which are more competitive decklists that can reasonably compete with others in casual Standard tournaments at a local Friday Night Magic game night and had some powerful cards based on the more popular deck archetypes at that time.

    They also had a Rivals of Ixalan "board game" with 4 pre-built decks (which can also be played in normal Magic) and a Game Night set with 5 pre-built decks.

    All of these have "normal" backs, so they can be played in "normal" Magic games, but official tournaments restrict what cards you can play based on the current Standard set rotation. There are less restrictive formats like Modern, Pauper (all commons from all sets, with a small banlist), casual formats like Commander, etc. If a card is reprinted in the latest expansion, then the old copies of the card are valid as long as they have the same name/do the same thing.

    There's a huge gulf of difference between casual play and tournament play, of course. The vast majority of Magic players play casually (otherwise, you'd see far greater numbers of people who play Constructed tournaments). Those who play in tournaments tend to just go to third party markets and buy the cards that they need outright or throw down X amount of dollars (no idea what this costs off the top of my head) for a full play set of the current expansions.

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  • FoefallerFoefaller Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    Quite the weasel words from EA, saying they disagree with Belgium's "interpretation" of the law.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Belgium, like most of Europe, is Civil Law only, right? No binding common law precedent.

    Wouldn't that mean that they would potentially have to go through this shit every time, because winning in court for this game would only legally apply to *just* that game?

    Foefaller on
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  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    You don't control the outcome. You don't control which cards you draw, or in what order, or which cards your opponent draws. In a given game, totally random chance can easily give you a set of cards to use with which there is no possibly line of play you can take that will allow you to win. You can, by application of skill, tilt the outcome, but even the absolute best magic players in the world only win about 70% of their games in spite of outplaying their opponents 100% of the time. The game - by design - has an unavoidable and substantial element of chance.

    As for legal definitions, they will vary by state because a lot of gambling laws are managed at the state level, but there are many states in which games of skill with an element of chance are defined as gambling. Generally, states either use the predominance test (loosely, it's gambling if chance matters MORE than skill even if both matter) or the material element test (loosely, it's gambling if chance plays a material role in the outcome, even if that role is less than the role of skill). To my knowledge, none use a test that says it's gambling only if the outcome depends on chance exclusively.

    Magic unquestionably fails the material element test, and may or may not fail the predominance test (determining whether it does would require statistical analysis on a body of evidence that I don't have and which probably wouldn't be in-scope for the conversation anyway). It's legally gambling in some states, and legally arguable in most others, and either way you'll likely find that there are a lot more people who will colloquially consider games with similar skill/chance elements like poker and blackjack to be gambling than the other way around.
    This is all irrelevant, because the 70% win rate is not a 50% win rate.
    You control part of the outcome, and to a significant degree, whereas lootboxes afford no such luxury.

    It's not irrelevant, man. You control part of the outcome in most gambling. Even betting on horse races tests your knowledge of racing, your knowledge of the horses and jockeys involved, and your ability to judge odds. The guy who knows a particular horse has been underperforming in training is more likely to win his bet than the next guy because he's better at it because he knows more. The assertion that a stake wagered for a chance at a prize is only gambling if there is no skill element whatsoever is needlessly reductive, and the part of my post that you just quoted and called irrelevant specifically explains why that standard isn't applied as well as what standards are applied in most jurisdictions.
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Entering a Magic tournament involves risking a stake - your entry fee - for a chance at a prize. This creates excitement and investment in the outcome, which is what motivates most tournament players to participate in them. They are more excited to play the game than they otherwise would be, because the outcome of the game - in which random chance plays a significant role - determines whether they get a prize. Arguing over whether the outcome is random enough for players who are motivated by stakes and prizes to legally count as being motivated by gambling seems like splitting hairs.

    Magic players - as a whole - open packs because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and enter tournaments because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and buy expensive foil cards because the low odds of getting those cards as a prize make them a status symbol, and are proud of assembling extensive collections of rare cards for the same reason. A lot of what people value about what Magic is selling is rooted in excitement ultimately generated by the role of chance in their purchases, no matter how much they also complain when that chance swings against them.

    That's true of blind collectibles in general. We can argue back and forth about whether Magic tournaments are random enough to be gambling, but most blind collectibles don't have a game associated with them at all, and their purchases are driven by the same motivation - pins, licensed coin sets, vinyl figures, dog tag sets, whatever - all that's there is a set of things intentionally made random and artificially scarce, with the option to buy a chance at randomly getting a rare one. People buy a blind pack because they're excited for the chance to gamble on its contents, and they're proud of their rare items and collections because they were made rare by the gambling system. They're buying the gamble, the experience of the risk for a stake. Random chance isn't a gate to force people to spend more than they normally would on the product, it is the product. Even when people buy single collectibles to complete their collections or because they don't want to gamble for the rare thing and want to pay a fixed cost instead, most of what they're buying is the status of having the rare thing or the completed collection, and that status only exists because of the randomized and artificially scarce nature of distribution.

    Again, the question of whether that's predatory or not is different and depends on a ton of factors, but if your position is that Magic players don't buy packs for the fun of opening them and finding out what's inside that's not borne out by the evidence, and if your position is that selling blind packs of anything is inherently predatory, then your issue isn't really with Magic but with a huge swathe of all collectible products at a fundamental level.
    Rewards incentivise behaviours, yes.
    Competition doesn't require prizes to survive though, as lunchtime Magic would attest.
    And these competitions could as easily be incentivised with a money prize pool.

    Magic players buy cards because they want to play magic.
    Rarity only increases the price to play a competitive deck.

    'rewards incentivise behaviors' is a pretty weird way to gloss over the entire content of the actual discussion.

    Competition requires prizes to survive at a scale that allows a game community like Magic's to exist, and they can't be incentivized with cash at a rate that allows the play spaces they operate in to exist the way they do now. I am trying to explain to you that the Magic ecosystem is a complicated thing in which rarity plays many roles and you can't just swap out a huge central part of it with something else and assert that it wouldn't have any impact on the rest, and you seem like you're trying to delete all nuance from the conversation in service to the idea that randomization exists solely to exploit customers who don't enjoy it. That's just not a correct read of the industry, and you're not going to be able to have a meaningful discussion about industry practices if you're not willing to understand what they even are.

    As for your repeated assertion that Magic players are motivated to buy cards solely because they want to play Magic and not for the fun of gambling on pack contents, I don't know what to tell you other than that if you've never heard someone say they just like opening packs for fun, seen someone turn down the option of aggressively-rated store credit prizes to get packs instead, heard someone brag about having rare cards, heard someone talk about 'going infinite' as a goal unto itself, seen someone get excited about opening a card they don't want or need purely because it's rare and valuable, or seen someone buy packs, open them at the counter, get something good, and immediately sell the cards back to the shop for store credit to buy more packs without ever walking away from the register, you must not have spent very much time in card shops. They like the gambling. People like to gamble. The gambling is part of what they're buying, and if the product didn't have gambling in it they would value it less. They may well also be exploited by that enjoyment, as gamblers often are, but the Magic community is not a bunch of risk-averse game players have gambling foisted on them against their will - it is much closer to being a bunch of gamblers who sometimes get roped into spending too much of their money gambling because gambling is addictive.
    Other blind lootboxes that are solely cosmetic in nature are less exploitative than Magic lootboxes purely because Magic cards have function.

    I think this is an odd position to take for physical collectibles. Magic cards have function, yes, but only because the product gives them a function. Both games like Magic and collectibles like mystery figures encourage customers to buy products in pursuit of building a collection, but Magic's self-justification for collecting is "buy and collect these cards because you can use them to play a fun game and the more of them you have the more different ways you can play" whereas the self-justification for blind collectibles generally is "buy and collect these products because...you gotta. If you don't collect them all, you won't have them all, and then your collection won't be complete and your brain will itch until you spend the money to complete it". I have a hard time seeing the former as being more exploitative than the latter.

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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    I always find arguments of the perfect being the enemy of the good, particularly with regards to regulation, to be misleading.

    It's one thing to point out issues with creating systematic rules - it's another to use that as some kind of sweeping indictment against any regulation whatsoever.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    edited January 29
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    I'm not aware of any state in the US that considers these things gambling. California at least, explicitly provides trading card packs as an example of something which does not fit the definition of gambling under state law.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=319.3.
    A “sports trading card grab bag” does not include a sweepstakes, or procedure for the distribution of any sports trading card of value by lot or by chance, which is not unlawful under other provisions of law.

    It may meet some of the various diagnostic standards of gambling, and surely meets some legal definitions in other jurisdictions.

    Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's moral.

    Heffling on
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  • Albino BunnyAlbino Bunny Bad Opinion Haver Registered User regular
    I always find arguments of the perfect being the enemy of the good, particularly with regards to regulation, to be misleading.

    It's one thing to point out issues with creating systematic rules - it's another to use that as some kind of sweeping indictment against any regulation whatsoever.

    To be clear if this was aimed at my previous post: I'm not against regulation at all. I think a lot of this stuff should just be clamped down and regulated as proper gambling.

    I just think that the legal side is the weakest because the problem games post is in their innate ability to engage with systems and the ease with which the trust developers are implicitly given by players is abused.

  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    I'm not aware of any state in the US that considers these things gambling. California at least, explicitly provides trading card packs as an example of something which does not fit the definition of gambling under state law.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=319.3.
    A “sports trading card grab bag” does not include a sweepstakes, or procedure for the distribution of any sports trading card of value by lot or by chance, which is not unlawful under other provisions of law.

    It may meet some of the various diagnostic standards of gambling, and surely meets some legal definitions in other jurisdictions.

    Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's moral.

    I wasn't making the argument that something being legal makes it moral but adding context in reply to one of Abbalah's informative and well constructed posts.

    However, to your point: gambling isn't immoral. Preying on those who gamble compulsively is.

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  • PolaritiePolaritie Sleepy Registered User regular
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    I'm not aware of any state in the US that considers these things gambling. California at least, explicitly provides trading card packs as an example of something which does not fit the definition of gambling under state law.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=319.3.
    A “sports trading card grab bag” does not include a sweepstakes, or procedure for the distribution of any sports trading card of value by lot or by chance, which is not unlawful under other provisions of law.

    It may meet some of the various diagnostic standards of gambling, and surely meets some legal definitions in other jurisdictions.

    Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's moral.

    I wasn't making the argument that something being legal makes it moral but adding context in reply to one of Abbalah's informative and well constructed posts.

    However, to your point: gambling isn't immoral. Preying on those who gamble compulsively is.

    Unregulated gambling has a strong incentive to turn predatory.

    That said, it is very hard for the usual predatory mechanisms to be applied to cards I think? Or at least, harder than gachas.

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  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    edited January 29
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    Netrunner did pretty well without lootboxes.
    I'd say MtG could do the same, if they didn't mark non-loot-box cards as illegal.
    That is, I doubt most MtG players want to gamble and in fact the advice to new players is frequently to not gamble at all.

    Nah. Netrunner did okay without lootboxes for a while, because the LCG model was novel and because ditching randomization (and the advent of cheaper printing methods for low-volume printing) also allowed them to cut production costs so that they could still turn a modest profit with their much, much smaller playerbase, and then it stopped making money after 4 or 5 years and got canceled after 6.

    Magic has orders of magnitude more players and makes orders of magnitude more money and is still going strong after 25 years. For better or for worse, they would not have that kind of reach or success on Netrunner's LCG model. LCGs are what you make when you don't think you have a customer base big enough to justify the large print runs that are necessary to make a collectible game profitable.

    Most MtG players absolutely enjoy the gambling/collecting aspect of the game, and the advice to new players I assume you're referring to (to buy singles rather than packs) isn't advice not to gamble, it's advice not to gamble in a particular way (while still participating in the many other aspects of the gambling portion of the game, like building a collection and playing in tournaments) at first - and the vast majority of them immediately ignore that advice and buy packs even when they've been told it's a less cost-effective way to buy cards because they think opening the packs to see what they got is inherently fun because it is gambling and they want to gamble.

    Even the players who are telling the new guys to buy singles instead of packs are in the game store to have that conversation in the first place because they're there to play in a tournament where they pay an entry fee and try to win a prize pool paid for by the entry fees - no different from playing poker for cash except that the cards you use are different and the cash is obfuscated as booster packs and store credit. It's gambling!

    The only MtG players who aren't obviously motivated at least in part by the gambling side of the game are the ones you mostly don't meet because they just play commander at home with their friends and never set foot in a game store and even those guys like showing off their rare and/or valuable foils and full-art cards - something that they get to do i]specifically because[/i] the gambling engine attached to the game makes some cards rare or valuable. Those purchases, too, are motivated by gambling - just not as directly.

    Magic players are (generally speaking) in it for the gambling, it's just that most of them don't think of it as gambling because the cards have wizards on them and apparently that's all it takes to obfuscate the fact that one of the major things motivating people to play is the stakes created by paying money for a chance at a prize.

    Tournaments are not gambling.
    Or rather, tournaments are about trying to express skill, and it would suck to have random chance/mana screw force you out of one.
    Poker tournaments are also about playing the cards the best, and are not gambling in my opinion.

    Gambling is just betting on chance alone.

    The presence of an element of skill doesn't, legally speaking, stop an activity that also has elements of chance from being gambling. If we really defined gambling as 'betting on chance alone' virtually nothing that happens in a casino except maybe the roulette wheel would be gambling. We can quibble over how strongly the outcome has to be determined by chance vs skill for a game to count as gambling, and how strongly that's the case in Magic, but realistically speaking Magic is a game of skill with elements of chance, just like poker and blackjack and the like, and in most places in the US if the cops found you running cash blackjack somewhere, 'in my opinion blackjack is not really gambling because it's about playing the cards the best' would not be a persuasive argument.

    First legal definition I've found for this is:
    'A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. '
    To which 'I control the outcome'/'I can play cards better than my opponents' would be a perfect defence.

    I still maintain the primary motivation of most players of MtG is to play cards, and not to gamble on lootboxes.
    And that removing the latter would only harm Wizard's profits.

    You don't control the outcome. You don't control which cards you draw, or in what order, or which cards your opponent draws. In a given game, totally random chance can easily give you a set of cards to use with which there is no possibly line of play you can take that will allow you to win. You can, by application of skill, tilt the outcome, but even the absolute best magic players in the world only win about 70% of their games in spite of outplaying their opponents 100% of the time. The game - by design - has an unavoidable and substantial element of chance.

    As for legal definitions, they will vary by state because a lot of gambling laws are managed at the state level, but there are many states in which games of skill with an element of chance are defined as gambling. Generally, states either use the predominance test (loosely, it's gambling if chance matters MORE than skill even if both matter) or the material element test (loosely, it's gambling if chance plays a material role in the outcome, even if that role is less than the role of skill). To my knowledge, none use a test that says it's gambling only if the outcome depends on chance exclusively.

    Magic unquestionably fails the material element test, and may or may not fail the predominance test (determining whether it does would require statistical analysis on a body of evidence that I don't have and which probably wouldn't be in-scope for the conversation anyway). It's legally gambling in some states, and legally arguable in most others, and either way you'll likely find that there are a lot more people who will colloquially consider games with similar skill/chance elements like poker and blackjack to be gambling than the other way around.
    This is all irrelevant, because the 70% win rate is not a 50% win rate.
    You control part of the outcome, and to a significant degree, whereas lootboxes afford no such luxury.

    It's not irrelevant, man. You control part of the outcome in most gambling. Even betting on horse races tests your knowledge of racing, your knowledge of the horses and jockeys involved, and your ability to judge odds. The guy who knows a particular horse has been underperforming in training is more likely to win his bet than the next guy because he's better at it because he knows more. The assertion that a stake wagered for a chance at a prize is only gambling if there is no skill element whatsoever is needlessly reductive, and the part of my post that you just quoted and called irrelevant specifically explains why that standard isn't applied as well as what standards are applied in most jurisdictions.
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Entering a Magic tournament involves risking a stake - your entry fee - for a chance at a prize. This creates excitement and investment in the outcome, which is what motivates most tournament players to participate in them. They are more excited to play the game than they otherwise would be, because the outcome of the game - in which random chance plays a significant role - determines whether they get a prize. Arguing over whether the outcome is random enough for players who are motivated by stakes and prizes to legally count as being motivated by gambling seems like splitting hairs.

    Magic players - as a whole - open packs because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and enter tournaments because they're excited to pay for the chance at a prize, and buy expensive foil cards because the low odds of getting those cards as a prize make them a status symbol, and are proud of assembling extensive collections of rare cards for the same reason. A lot of what people value about what Magic is selling is rooted in excitement ultimately generated by the role of chance in their purchases, no matter how much they also complain when that chance swings against them.

    That's true of blind collectibles in general. We can argue back and forth about whether Magic tournaments are random enough to be gambling, but most blind collectibles don't have a game associated with them at all, and their purchases are driven by the same motivation - pins, licensed coin sets, vinyl figures, dog tag sets, whatever - all that's there is a set of things intentionally made random and artificially scarce, with the option to buy a chance at randomly getting a rare one. People buy a blind pack because they're excited for the chance to gamble on its contents, and they're proud of their rare items and collections because they were made rare by the gambling system. They're buying the gamble, the experience of the risk for a stake. Random chance isn't a gate to force people to spend more than they normally would on the product, it is the product. Even when people buy single collectibles to complete their collections or because they don't want to gamble for the rare thing and want to pay a fixed cost instead, most of what they're buying is the status of having the rare thing or the completed collection, and that status only exists because of the randomized and artificially scarce nature of distribution.

    Again, the question of whether that's predatory or not is different and depends on a ton of factors, but if your position is that Magic players don't buy packs for the fun of opening them and finding out what's inside that's not borne out by the evidence, and if your position is that selling blind packs of anything is inherently predatory, then your issue isn't really with Magic but with a huge swathe of all collectible products at a fundamental level.
    Rewards incentivise behaviours, yes.
    Competition doesn't require prizes to survive though, as lunchtime Magic would attest.
    And these competitions could as easily be incentivised with a money prize pool.

    Magic players buy cards because they want to play magic.
    Rarity only increases the price to play a competitive deck.

    'rewards incentivise behaviors' is a pretty weird way to gloss over the entire content of the actual discussion.

    Competition requires prizes to survive at a scale that allows a game community like Magic's to exist, and they can't be incentivized with cash at a rate that allows the play spaces they operate in to exist the way they do now. I am trying to explain to you that the Magic ecosystem is a complicated thing in which rarity plays many roles and you can't just swap out a huge central part of it with something else and assert that it wouldn't have any impact on the rest, and you seem like you're trying to delete all nuance from the conversation in service to the idea that randomization exists solely to exploit customers who don't enjoy it. That's just not a correct read of the industry, and you're not going to be able to have a meaningful discussion about industry practices if you're not willing to understand what they even are.

    As for your repeated assertion that Magic players are motivated to buy cards solely because they want to play Magic and not for the fun of gambling on pack contents, I don't know what to tell you other than that if you've never heard someone say they just like opening packs for fun, seen someone turn down the option of aggressively-rated store credit prizes to get packs instead, heard someone brag about having rare cards, heard someone talk about 'going infinite' as a goal unto itself, seen someone get excited about opening a card they don't want or need purely because it's rare and valuable, or seen someone buy packs, open them at the counter, get something good, and immediately sell the cards back to the shop for store credit to buy more packs without ever walking away from the register, you must not have spent very much time in card shops. They like the gambling. People like to gamble. The gambling is part of what they're buying, and if the product didn't have gambling in it they would value it less. They may well also be exploited by that enjoyment, as gamblers often are, but the Magic community is not a bunch of risk-averse game players have gambling foisted on them against their will - it is much closer to being a bunch of gamblers who sometimes get roped into spending too much of their money gambling because gambling is addictive.
    Other blind lootboxes that are solely cosmetic in nature are less exploitative than Magic lootboxes purely because Magic cards have function.

    I think this is an odd position to take for physical collectibles. Magic cards have function, yes, but only because the product gives them a function. Both games like Magic and collectibles like mystery figures encourage customers to buy products in pursuit of building a collection, but Magic's self-justification for collecting is "buy and collect these cards because you can use them to play a fun game and the more of them you have the more different ways you can play" whereas the self-justification for blind collectibles generally is "buy and collect these products because...you gotta. If you don't collect them all, you won't have them all, and then your collection won't be complete and your brain will itch until you spend the money to complete it". I have a hard time seeing the former as being more exploitative than the latter.

    Most modern slot machines have an optimal strategy. Though iirc, and it has been a while, it only swings the payout percentage ~2% from random play. And it never gets you over 100%

    Some Video Poker games actually have a payout percentage of over 100% for optimal play.

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  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    I'm not aware of any state in the US that considers these things gambling. California at least, explicitly provides trading card packs as an example of something which does not fit the definition of gambling under state law.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=319.3.
    A “sports trading card grab bag” does not include a sweepstakes, or procedure for the distribution of any sports trading card of value by lot or by chance, which is not unlawful under other provisions of law.

    It may meet some of the various diagnostic standards of gambling, and surely meets some legal definitions in other jurisdictions.

    ???
    It looks like Calfornia -considers- trading card packs gambling, so long as they're not from the manufacturer.
    That is, in the previous sentence:
    “Sports trading card grab bag” means a sealed package which contains one or more sports trading cards that have been removed from the manufacturer’s original packaging.

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  • TNTrooperTNTrooper Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    lazegamer wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Magic is basically a gambling product. And so is Pinny Arcade, and baseball cards, and mystery funkos, and blind vinyl minifigs, and every other blind-wrapped random collectible in existence. They're all built around artificially creating scarcity to construct a reward system and then letting you pay for a chance to get a reward. It's gambling. People like to gamble! The extent to which it is a predatory product is a different question which depends largely on the particular practices employed. Fixed vanity decks that can be used to play with your friends but not to compete in tournaments for prizes aren't a predatory practice, and in fact are a direct attempt at offering a way to just play the game portion of the game without engaging with the gambling part - something it turns out most players don't actually want, because the gambling is what they were buying to begin with.

    I'm not aware of any state in the US that considers these things gambling. California at least, explicitly provides trading card packs as an example of something which does not fit the definition of gambling under state law.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=319.3.
    A “sports trading card grab bag” does not include a sweepstakes, or procedure for the distribution of any sports trading card of value by lot or by chance, which is not unlawful under other provisions of law.

    It may meet some of the various diagnostic standards of gambling, and surely meets some legal definitions in other jurisdictions.

    ???
    It looks like Calfornia -considers- trading card packs gambling, so long as they're not from the manufacturer.
    That is, in the previous sentence:
    “Sports trading card grab bag” means a sealed package which contains one or more sports trading cards that have been removed from the manufacturer’s original packaging.

    So it is only gambling after you open it up and find out what is in the mystery pack :?

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  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    Any chance that's because it's a known quantity to someone, rather than a machine packed randomized set?

    And before anyone else bothers pointing it out, I'm aware that machine sorted cards are no perfectly random. Years ago when I still stayed on top of the Magic scene, people would sort out what cards came in what pack from a booster box (36 packs), compile that info with others, and be able to make a surprisingly educated guess about a pack's contents.

    It's not a perfect system. You needed to open one or more packs to begin to assess roughly which box type you should have, and even then it was never an absolute guarantee. The inclusion of foil cards (themselves a random modifier) further complicated things a little (as in, a potentially 'worthless' pack might actually have something of immense value in it).

    That info is also now years out of date. For all I know WOTC finally got annoyed enough to better randomize their packs, or maybe they've just come to accept it. vOv

    But at least that would be random'ish. If someone is cracking all the packs, siphoning out the good stuff, and then reselling the chaff as a mystery grab bag (which has zero mystery for the person building them). Ugh, now that I've looked, it seems 'magic card repacks' are still a thing on eBay though, which is basically the same thing; someone claims to have cards worth hundreds of dollars mixed in with piles of jank, you pay the $X for however many packs, and hope to get lucky. Meanwhile, you're more likely to get nothing of value, and any feedback claiming to have pulled something big comes under scrutiny as likely belonging to a shill account or their friend/family member trying to build up how believable it is that some of those cards might actually go out.

    Like, I could take a picture of every valuable card I own, and then send out repacks with mid level stuff (obviously sending out pure crap will get noticed). Just like these 'blind boxes' at conventions, it's a way to clear out trash. Actually getting something of value would be a legit surprise from one of those things.

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  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited January 29
    I'd like to think California has the manufacturers' odds regulated, but I wouldn't know where to look.

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