Anti-Loot Box Law

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by turgy22, May 9, 2019.

  1. turgy22 Nothing Special

  2. Mooseman Isengar Tussle

    Kind of agree with this bill. Many games use this as their business model.
  3. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I haven't really thought about it much because I don't buy anything of the few games that I play that have this kind of thing, and I watch what my kids spend in games. But if pressed, I'd say the choice should be the players/parents - no one's forcing anyone to buy them and if someone feels they "need" to have it, it should be explained that they don't and/or they need to play something else.
  4. turgy22 Nothing Special

    I'm in agreement with Spidey on this one.
    I think the proposed law will be very popular with groups of people who get up in arms every time some feature like loot boxes is introduced, but I think it's a bad idea to regulate this sort of thing.
    The best argument would be that these practices prey on youth who aren't responsible with their spending, but I've always felt that parents need to take a more active role in monitoring their kids' behavior. If your kid's spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to get ahead in an online game, that's on you to stop; not the government.
    I'm also opposed from a personal perspective. I do spend a lot of time playing "freemium" games and love that I can enjoy these games for free because other people are willing to shell out the money to fund them. I know I'll never be in that top tier of players, but I'm okay with that because I enjoy the grind. If other people need to reach the highest levels and are willing to pull out their wallets to get there, I'm okay with that.
    Finally, I just got to say that my experience tells me whenever the government gets involved in this sort of thing, it's only going to get screwed up.
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    So I'm late to the party on this one, but I wanted to read up on it first and now I finally have.

    I tend to be critical of "think of the children" politics, and that's basically what this is. You want to convince me that some law is a good idea? Fine, argue on the actual merits of it. Don't try to throw kids at me. It won't work.

    Well, I'm also pretty biased on this stuff because it's basically casino games. And I hate that stuff. It was involved in some real, lasting damage that was done in my family and I have a bit of a visceral aversion to casino games. But I don't want them banned. People should be free to make their own choices. I've always believed that. Still do.

    But you know, now that we come to it, casinos and casino games are regulated. They can be subject to some pretty strict legal measures. None of that was anything I asked for. It's been that way since long before I came around. But it is an established thing in our society, right? We don't have the government unilaterally keep people from casino games, but we do have a lot of laws about virtually every aspect of that stuff. Where, when, and how it's done, and I'm pretty sure that those laws also have some stuff to say about kids. The whole package of numerous and highly severe laws we have concerning casinos is apparently not enough to put them out of business for good, and as much as I loathe them, fine. They can do business. Let people make their own choices.

    What we've had, though, for years now, is a world with this online games that have what Richard Garfield called the "Skinnerware" model, that keep approaching closer and closer to just being actual casino games. The vile purveyors of these products always hid behind this excuse of how it was all just silly games for kids and stuff. It's not really gambling. No Senator, it's nothing like Roulette or Blackjack. It's just these silly fantasy video games, see? It's not real. It's all just fake. Pretend. All the way to the bank.

    So now someone's actually taking them to task for this? Fine. It smacks of the same "think of the children" politics I can't stand and I'm not convinced that it'll do any good. But I'm up for trying it out anyway as a step in the right direction. It's stupidly kid-focused and most of the "whales" for these games are probably adults anyway, but I'll take what I can get. If we're going to have strict laws regarding "real" casino games, let's set those same standards for their virtual counterparts. If it doesn't work, maybe we can move on to drawing and quartering the greedy exploitative pieces of crap who peddle thinly disguised casino games to addicts.
  6. turgy22 Nothing Special

    So I had another thought on this...

    How are loot boxes different from buying packs of cards?
    The randomization factor is similar, as well as the concept that the more you buy, the higher the odds of getting the card that will help you achieve a better standing in the game.
    You could almost say that MTG invented an IRL precursor to the loot box by assigning rarity to cards and then packing them randomly. Isn't this a form of gambling unto itself?
    My younger self certainly fell slightly victim to the addictive nature of the game and the need to buy more packs in hopes of getting the best cards.
    If loot boxes were to be banned, shouldn't the same standards be applied here?
  7. Mooseman Isengar Tussle

    Well Trugy22, there is no "free" version of MTG, you have to buy the cards/packs/boxes to actually play the game. Although you could borrow your friends cards to play, can you borrow your friends loot from the loot boxes?
    The loot boxes are to entice people to spend money in games they (usually) are playing for free.
    The loot box is basically the same as the upgrades for your sports players or fantasy character in games that are free to play, but cost money to have a chance to "win".
  8. turgy22 Nothing Special

    Since you mention it, I would say that, yes, it is quite possible to play for free.
    I've known plenty of people (myself included) who were willing to give away commons and basic lands to help someone else get started.
    Maybe it doesn't count because it's not official, but it's still kind of the same concept.
    Also, some games with loot boxes aren't free to play. I remember an uproar over the newest Battlefront game, which had loot boxes and a hefty price tag for the base game.
  9. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Someone asked Richard Garfield that question after he wrote about "Skinnerware" and he did admit that he wasn't entirely comfortable with the similarity. It does seem like a lot of his output since he moved on from Magic has been trying to come up with a less exploitative model. Stuff like Keyforge.

    Personally, I think that there's a lot of difference, but that it isn't down to any single, definitive thing. Ultimately, "loot boxes" work with human psychology because of things like "surprise" and "variance." And those are elements of just about any game.

    I don't think that Magic boosters, as a way to get game pieces for playing a game, are as gambling-like as most of the infamous "loot box" games, but the similarity is why I loathe the mythic rarity. I think that in the early years, excusing some hiccups of philosophy and distribution, WotC was trying to keep the game in a reasonable place. I thought things like the unfairly derided Fallen Empires and the even more unfairly derided Chronicles were a step in the right direction. And I didn't even mind foils. People who were interested could try to collect them and the rest of us could ignore them. The stability of the base set also helped ensure that players had access to key cards. Not trying to idealize it. There were problems back then too. But I do think, perhaps because of Hasbro, that the game has moved in the wrong direction, that it feels more greedy as a business model than in the old days.

    So for people who play Constructed formats where having access to a certain card is important for improving standings, everyone I know of just buys the singles anyway. I mean, I do sometimes see people getting excited about "cracking packs" and discussing how good or bad their pulls were and stuff, but for people seriously wanting to get a particular card to help them win, they just buy it anyway, or trade for it.

    Richard Garfield didn't invent trading card packs, though. Trading cards came wrapped in packs that were themselves stored in cardboard boxes long before Magic came out. Were they loot boxes then?

    I mean, I've seriously seen people argue exactly that. For my part, I would not, but it is an opinion that real people have...
  10. turgy22 Nothing Special

    I'm glad you noticed this, because I did actually think about that before posting.

    I think the difference between trading cards and trading cards for a game is that the more packs you get, the greater your odds of winning. You can collect baseball cards, but having a complete collection doesn't really benefit you in any way other than giving you the satisfaction of completing the collection.

    I should also note that this idea popped into my head because I started playing Arena, which basically has the "fremium" game model, so the differences in packs is more pronounced there. In real life competitive Magic, buying more cards doesn't give you more packs necessarily (maybe some other prizes), but on Arena it's basically propagating the same cycle as any other free-to-play game.
  11. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I mean, you can't win a booster draft in this way because everyone gets the same number of packs. You also can't really count on pack-openings to improve your chances of winning in Legacy, because it might not be feasible to find unopened packs for sale that contain the cards you could use to improve your deck. About the only established format I can think of in recent years where this "the more packs you open, the better your deck might become" thing might have worked was Brawl. Magic players who just want to make their decks better don't tend to open hundreds of booster packs. You'd get a bunch of duplicates of the wrong rares and might not get the right rare. Players in Constructed formats buy singles or trade for them. They don't rely on pack-opening alone.

    Now, according to WotC, most Magic gameplay isn't tournament-focused and is of the "kitchen table" variety. So one might make the case that in those environments, small playgroups of players with relatively small collections, it might happen a lot that the players who buy more packs get bigger card pools for their casual decks and outperform their peers who spend less on the game. To that, I'd say we can extend it even further. If I spend more money to get a much nicer tennis racket than the old one you're using, that would give me an advantage in the game of tennis (this advantage might not do much to cancel out my lack of skill, I know). But surely tennis isn't a loot box game, right?

    That's about how it works for Magic cards. You're only going to build a deck of a certain size. Say, 75 cards total for your maindeck + sideboard. In theory, the state of completeness of the rest of your collection has no effect. So long as you have the right 75 cards, then you have them and your deck is done. Collecting cards can be distinct from that.

    Yeah. Maybe I just don't think of paper Magic's business model as so egregious because I'm inured to it. But Arena's model gives me far more trepidation.

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