From gamers, the boiling point was pretty much reached with the lootboxes in Star Wars Battlefront II. That is now a blueprint for how it should not be done. Did you want to play Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader on the early release? Unfortunately, they were well locked away and access was only possible by collecting 60,000 in-game Credits; that was equivalent to playing forty hours.
But EA and Dice were on hand to help players cut the corner: Crystals were available to purchase lootboxes with real money. There were, for example, substantial credit boosts to get hold of Darth Vader in one fell swoop. But there were also items and Star Cards in the loot boxes that simply gave players a gameplay advantage. In other words, a ‘pay2win model’, which led to a storm of criticism. EA quickly chose eggs for its money by, for example, releasing the Heroes faster. Furthermore, the company temporarily disabled the option to purchase Crystals and paid loot boxes were scrapped. Major adjustments, a clear mea culpa, but the ghost was already out of the bottle and it was gone. The use of the lol smurfs come perfect.
Star Wars Battlefront II
Governments are stirring
Not only from players came strong criticism. Lootboxes were already widely featured in major games in 2016, such as in Overwatch, Hearthstone and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. It took a while, but this year it became almost inevitable that governments also started stirring the discussion about lootboxes. That is not surprising, especially when you consider the many mobile-oriented mobile games in which paying for lootboxes or extra content is often even more dominant and has been around for much longer than in games for PCs and consoles. Some governments and organizations such as Ireland, New Zealand and PEGI believe that lootboxes do not fall under the definition of gambling; they see it more as an e-commerce activity that should not be regulated by the – often strict – gambling legislation.
- However, there are also governments that argue the opposite. A Democratic senator in Hawaii speaks lootboxes of “predator behavior” and “traps” to lure children into making them spend money. Closer to home, Belgium in particular is certain: the Gaming Commission already started an investigation into lootboxes in games in 2017 and threatened in April with million fines for certain games such as Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and FIFA 18. According to the committee, the lootbox practices in the games with the conditions for a game of chance: these are games, with a certain bet, that lead to a profit or loss for the player and where chance plays a role.
Belgium and the Netherlands
For example, Blizzard and Valve chose eggs for their money and made changes specifically for Belgium and sometimes also for the Netherlands, such as removing the possibility of buying or opening loot boxes. The publisher 2K Games also decided to adapt its 2K basketball games to the Belgian and Dutch requirements. The MyTeam system of the NBA 2K games is similar to FIFA Ultimate Team mode in that it allows virtual in-game money to be purchased with real money, which in turn can be used to team up a team of well-known basketball players. set. From now on, players in Belgium can only obtain MyTeam packs with points earned in the game. This option is still available for the Dutch market, but there is no longer access to the Auction House, so that the content can no longer be traded.