Spending cap doesn’t solve the problem

Tobold lives in a country where lootboxes are banned. Since Belgium is small, most companies just stop selling their games there, or at least the lootboxes. He isn’t happy about this.

As I have stated repeatedly in the past, I am not totally against games with in-game purchases. There are a number of games which I started for free and then decided to spend modest amounts on loot boxes and other in-game advantages on. As long as you stay reasonable in your purchases, that is an okay business model. Of course if you spend more money than you would have spent on a full price game, or even hundreds or thousands of dollars because you became addicted, that is a different problem. And I can totally see the need to restrict that legally. Which, in my opinion, should then be done in the form of spending caps.

While in-game spendings in itself can be problematic (pay-to-win), it’s not the problem here. The problem with lootboxes is that you aren’t paying for an in-game item. You are paying for the chance to get an in-game item. This is fundamentally gambling. Even if you can’t sell your account (you always can), these system enforce a moron attitude: that results are out of your control, depend on luck. If I plant rose seeds in my garden, I always get roses. Or maybe nothing but weeds if I suck in gardening. They never-ever proc into orchids. The result depends only on the materials I use and the skill I have. Early games worked like that: kill monster, get reward.

This system did not serve the morons and slackers who lack skills or effort. To still get their money, various systems were introduced that gave in-game rewards for nothing. The lootbox is the pinnacle of this: you pay real money (no in-game effort) and get something out of your control (absolutely no skill, not even “buy in the shop”). These games teach players all the bad things. They should absolutely not be sold to children and preferably nobody. There is a reason why gambling is regulated everywhere and children are banned from entrance.

Having a stop-loss is only good in stopping already serious addicts from losing their homes. It won’t stop normal, but vulnerable people from going addicts. This isn’t something that anyone should support. Not because someone might get poor, but because no production is done. Nothing of value is created in the casino. This crap has no place in gaming.

Go Belgium! I hope the whole EU soon adopts the no lootbox rules.

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

5 thoughts on “Spending cap doesn’t solve the problem”

  1. Belgium could have handled the gambling issue entirely different. They could have simply looked at any individual game, and if it was determined that the game had aspects of gambling, they could have simply required the game be marked for sale to only those who are 18+(or 21+) years of age. The developers could then make the decision to pull the questionable gambling mechanics from the game so it could be sold to minors, or leave them in the game and risk taking a hit on sales. I’m of the opinion that these kinds of issues need to be handled at the parent level, instead of outright blocking access to these types of games to consenting adults.

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  2. @NoGuff this would not have been enough. If it would be enough to mark games for older audiences, it would be the same as saying “everyone can operate a casino if it is only 18+ entrance”. For good reasons that is not allowed in most countries. E.g. it would make cheating too easy for the operator. It would also be a prime system for money laundering.
    Like many countries, Belgium has gambling laws that require a licence to run any kind of gambling. This includes warnings, reviews of the systems, … .
    The video-game companies could apply for that kind of license. Of course with the full audit, warnings, … . If they do that, they could operate there. And for such cases, I’d be strongly in favor of governmental oversight so it is a fair random chance. There is too much of an incentive to change what a player gets depending on his profile and no way to verify the correctness by the player.

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  3. @NoGuff: Age restrictions don’t work very well in the internet age. But more importantly almost every country has regulations regarding betting/gambling, usually recognizing there is some value to society for fun & stress relief, but also a lot of damage in the form of addiction.
    It is a sliding scale, for example children are still allowed to buy their pokeman cards. However in this case I’m happy with the ban. Most of all because it is amusing to see the SJW-infected virtue signaling game publishers getting a kick in the teeth from some other virtue signalers. But also because adding loot boxes to a game adds a perverse incentive for a game developer to cripple other parts of their game so the player will feel compelled to buy loot boxes, meaning this is a case where allowing gambling is a net-negative to society.

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  4. Just as an aside, but the loot box controversy/regulation issues could go away overnight if the developers just decided to employ some form of “Skill” component in opening loot boxes instead of the loot being determined by RNG or chance. A large number of States in the US have passed laws(and/or have court rulings) that support the notion that a game is not gambling if it requires hand-eye coordination, or some form of dexterity or memorization component to play/win. Imagine a loot box dropping with a simple “Simon” type of unlocking sequence, where each sequence increases in difficulty and offers a resulting increase in rewards.

    Voila! No more gambling concerns(?).

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