Lootboxes, prize boxes and ********: Electronic Arts is absolutely right!
The debate on loot boxes and ******** resumes strength thanks to the very recent statements by Electronic Arts to the English parliament. Are you ready for a new counter-current Pierpolemic?
It was a lifetime since I went back to having one Pierpolemica but a chronic lack of inspiration, coupled with the hustle and bustle of this year’s E3, kept me away from my favorite column. And then, all of a sudden, inspiration came thanks to Electronic Arts who, just a couple of days ago, through a long speech in the English parliament that saw the protagonist Kerry Hopkins, the vice president of legal affairs of EA, spoke of loot box and surprises of kinder eggs. So get ready because, as you made my head pop in the many flowery comments and debates online, now I’m going to blow your head because, unbelievable but true, I’m on EA’s side.
Before going into the details of the controversy, it is essential that I say two things to better clarify my position.
First of all I am against, but against hard, any type of loot box that includes a player enhancement. I am against the pay to win in short, the possibility of spending money to get an immediate and linear bonus: if I spend € 10 I do more damage, if I spend € 20 I run faster and so on. It does not create any kind of problem for me aesthetic improvement or bonuses that speed up the experience or improve it without affecting others.
In the end I spend money on clothes and shoes, so I don’t find anything wrong with that if one wants to spend money to make their character look cooler.
And as I got older, I realized that, by decreasing the time to devote to video games, I don’t see anything wrong if a title allows me to spend money to skip phases that don’t interest me or to align myself with the most recent situation. To be clear, I appreciate the choice of Battle.net to allow you to pay to start from a certain level in World of Warcraft and if I’m not mistaken even Bungie with Destiny has done something similar in the past.
Second, I am of the opinion that any title that plans to spend real money to get something, even just the aesthetic elements, should be forbidden to minors or in any case indicate this possibility very, very strongly. The parent must know that his son is spending money on a video game that goes far beyond just buying the game, and must be aware that he is giving his credit card for something that threatens to drain it; if he is obviously not a good parent.
I don’t think there is a need to recount and summarize the issue of loot boxes. The diatribe is clear: unboxing i packs in FUTin Hearthstoneopening chests in Overwatch, Battlefront, and Call of Duty is or isn’t comparable to the gamble? This debate has been going on for a couple of years now and only Belgium and the Netherlands have moved in a very marked way through bodies (and not courts) which have affirmed that according to some local laws, loot boxes are to be considered game of ‘gamble and therefore banned video games that include them (or forced developers to remove them to continue selling their titles). Throughout the rest of the world, courts and states have spoken differently when they have expressed themselves.
And we come to EA and Hopkins: this gentleman who follows the legal affairs of EA, consulted by the English parliament in a debate on culture, media and sport, declared that the loot boxes, but more precisely the loot included in the games, they are to be considered equivalent to the surprises present in the Kinder eggs, in the Hatchimals or in the LOL Surprise. Hopkins specifically said that we are talking about “surprise mechanichs”.
And down the drama and the scandal. EA must die, must fail, must close, whoever plays FUT is an idiot, long live everything else, long live the indies.
But we are not here because, in my opinion, the type of EA told a sacred truth. What distinguishes the FUT or Hearthstone cards and, in some ways, the dynamic that leads you to find a victory phrase in an Overwatch chest, from the opening of any booster of Magic? Or, I know it’s exaggerated but the concept is the same, since opening the sticker packs? Or give them super colorful and very expensive unboxing of LOL Surprise? Nothing, for me absolutely nothing. You are there, spend some money, open anything and inside you find stuff that you may like or not, be more or less rare, piss you off for duplicates.
First of all it is not ********, if we have to refer to the laws, not only the Italian ones, which legislate this topic. ******** is such not only for the purpose of profit, and so far we can also stay with the loot boxes, but because it must predict win and loss. Loot boxes do not provide for loss, in any video game. There is no possibility to spend real money or credits in game, open the cashier or the envelope and find nothing inside. Find it empty. You cannot “throw” money without any reward. That’s ********: you bet, you bet and you will probably lose some money. And then you try again a thousand times hoping that sooner or later you will be able to win enough to recover the money you lost. This mechanics there is no lootbox.
And ******** doesn’t even define the risk of it pathology. It’s not that since there’s the feeling of victory, of finding what you hope for in the loot box, that stuff that gives you spit and excitement, then it means it’s ********. Unfortunately, the human brain is subject to endorphins and there are people who stimulate them by going to the gym every day, there are those who stimulate them by eating, there are those who stimulate them by trying to have *** with anyone. Pathology is something that must be studied, followed and treated, even in the case of loot boxes, but the fact that there is an addiction must not legitimize states in blocking the existence of that dynamic, because with this concept we approach the censorship and the absence of freedom to do and enjoy what one prefers.
Another element that I have often seen pulled in the middle in debates is that Magic or any other similar physical stuff allows, if one wants, to free oneself from the dynamics of the boosters and the spasmodic opening by spending real money to buy the single card that interests us. Except it’s even worse for me, but the exact same dynamic exists in most video games that include loot boxes. In FUT there is the market where players resell duplicates, in Hearthstone you break cards for dust and so on. And even in this case, the basic question does not change much, because in any case everything always comes from a sachet in the beginning.
And then there’s the more violent argument: FUT sucks because it’s badly balanced and makes you want to buy packets; Battlefront 2’s loot boxes were pay to win so DICE and EA must fail because they rape the players … But even in this case it can’t be the balance of the opening dynamics of the speakers, or their insertion into the game, or the odds that regulate the rarest items, to make loot boxes become ********. Even in the worst examples of pay to win, which I repeat as I said at the beginning, they make me sick, it is not the bad balance of the game that makes its loot boxes comparable to ********. It is simply a bad game, probably free to play, that players shouldn’t play. And if one plays it, he plays it at his own risk. But it goes without saying that any state or court could not legislate or issue sentences based on the balance of a game. It is often too complex even for us in the sector to calculate and evaluate this balance, let alone for those who are not a video game expert to start calculating if the +45 bonus to the strength that can be bought with real money, alters the stability of PvP.
And so, in conclusion, for me it is really true: the loot boxes are like the LOL Surprise and indeed, very often they also cost less and at least they are not aimed at 4-year-old girls and boys and are not broadcast on TV between episodes. of Curious Like George and Disney House.
I already know you will disagree with me, but I want to hear your arguments thoroughly, so let loose below in the comments. But only after seeing my big face in the video you find at the top of the article!