This topic is intended to be specifically about lootboxes, their effects on players, and potential regulation. It is not intended to be a thread to bash specific companies or discuss the games, outside of examples of how lootboxes are implemented.
With the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 fiasco ongoing, there has been a renewed wave of pressure to regulate lootboxes and other microtransations in some fashion, with many people explicitly arguing these systems are predatory and equivalent to gambling. For those who don't know, Battlefront 2 released with an extremely aggressive lootbox system, where direct upgrades, core franchise characters like Darth Vader, and key options were all locked behind totally random lootboxes or literal days
A large segment of this outcry has come from the gaming community, who is understandably upset about a beloved franchise being used as part of a naked cashgrab that does not even pretend player enjoyment is coequal with extracting value from whales. But it's also reached the public and legislative sphere, with lawmakers from Hawaii giving a speech that claimed these practices were gambling and advertising the games was equivalent to Joe Camel advertising cigarettes to kids. And it can't be denied that these systems, while ostensibly targeting people with disposable income who like to spend it, also target people with compulsive behaviors and children who don't know better.
On the other hand, regulating these lootboxes as gambling is tricky because of the wide net any definition would cast. The difference between the lootboxes in Battlefront 2 and card packs in Hearthstone is mostly in the monetization strategy; Battlefront 2 has a fixed cost up front and makes it nearly impossible to freely get rewards, while Hearthstone is free to play and nobody expected rewards to come quickly without spending money. From a legislative standpoint, both of these games, and even games with cosmetic rewards like Overwatch, would be effectively the same thing: paying money for a randomized, zero-real-money-value reward. Further, it's hard to see how regulating in-game randomized rewards would not also affect systems like the Steam Marketplace or real-world trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, where the rewards actually do have physical value. Maybe the Steam Marketplace is an acceptable casualty given how it encourages openly gambling, but are trading cards problematic enough they need to be swept up in the regulation? I honestly don't know.
So what are your thoughts on this issue? Should lootboxes be regulated? If so, what sort of legislation would you prefer? And what about countries that do implement regulations; what sort of pitfalls can be avoided?
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