• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

British Labour MP has asked the UK government to regulate loot boxes

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, has submitted two written questions on my behalf:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games. (link)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man's enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK. (link)

These are a result of a very positive meeting I had with Daniel a few weeks ago. Some quick context:

  • The goal here is to see the UK's existing gambling regulations applied to loot boxes.
  • The Isle of Man is a British territory which explicitly defines in-game items as money's worth in its gambling law. It's currently the only place in the world that does so.
  • In the language of parliament, both of these questions are saying "you should do this".
  • Replies seem to take about a month to arrive. When one does arrive it is highly likely to be something non-committal rather than "we'll get right on it". That's OK, the point is to start the conversation.

To my knowledge this is the first time that the issue has been raised in parliament, so while this might not quite be up there with "fight them on the beaches" it is still a significant step. I'll make another post here once the replies arrive...unless of course the government acts first!

PS: If you're interested in helping raise the loot box issue further, and are a British citizen, someone else has a petition underway which is currently less than 50 signatures away from receiving a response from the government. I think we can get a few more names on there. :)

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/76644w/my_mp_has_asked_the_british_government_to/

Sourced from reddit, but the links check out. Daniel's Twitter account if you want to forward on support/questions - https://twitter.com/DanielZeichner (keep it clean and respectful)

Comments actually funny... but kind of true, for once (nod to this).



It's a Labour MP asking these questions, our current government is Conservative led. The questions and petition will need to at least be discussed, so it doesn't matter too much an opposition MP is fronting this.

edit: Traditional website sourcing reddit ~ http://wccftech.com/british-parliamentarian-loot-boxes/
 

krumble

Member
Jan 5, 2010
855
0
555
London
Finally some real action on this (with any luck)

Devs should be forced to patch out and rebalance any non cosmetic loot boxes if this gains traction
 
Jun 18, 2014
2,388
6
0
UK
Second to top post there, to add some discussion point.

Inviting the government to interfere in regulating video games because there's something dumb and bad in a video game is dumb and bad. It's the same kind of protect-the-children reasoning Tipper Gore & concerned housewives had about "violent" video games, music, TV and movies had in the 90's. You do not want to start empowering the government to regulate entertainment and I'm shocked anyone is dumb enough to think this is a good idea.

If you don't like loot boxes, don't buy them. Don't buy games that have them. But this protect-the-children BS it's-not-gambling-so-let's have the-government-say-it's-gambling-and-oops-so-are-carnivals-midways-and-arcades-and-now-the-government-thinks-games-are-too-sexy-too-violent-and-they-say-naughty-words-and-promote-unapproved-lifestyle-and-thoughts-so-let's-just-regulate that-too though is just stupid.

Do you... does anyone have any idea how ridiculous it is that you're inviting the government to tell you what can and can't be in video games? It's so just beyond stupid and dangerous that you'd do that... I just can't personally comprehend it. (And all over a random loot box that maybe gives you a nice new ax or whatever)

This is stupid people. Just plain stupid.
 

Eumi

Member
Jan 19, 2016
2,344
0
0
Thank god. I’m sick and tired of the “It’s not technically gambling” people crawling out to defend this like laws aren’t constantly changed to adapt to new markets.
 

truestatic

Member
Jan 25, 2013
3,204
3
0
Finally some real action on this (with any luck)

Devs should be forced to patch out and rebalance any non cosmetic loot boxes if this gains traction

Cosmetics can be addictively exploitative too. Gonna bet more than a few have sunk more than they can afford into Overwatches boxes during the holidays.
 

Bowl0l

Member
Oct 23, 2014
2,501
0
270
Well done. Blind boxes shouldn't exist in any products. Sell it directly if you want money, don't price things ridiculously high and then proceed to cover the price tag.
 

Principate

Saint Titanfall
Dec 17, 2011
16,559
0
570
The ๖ۜBronx;252063950 said:
Second to top post there, to add some discussion point.
What is this person even on about? We have external regulatory bodies for almost everything.
 

Goldfishking

Member
Oct 14, 2014
1,274
0
400
Would defining loot boxes as gambling also define stuff like hearthstone card packs as gambling? I'm not really sure how you'd distinguish between the two.
 

OverBlood 3

Banned
Nov 28, 2012
5,412
0
0
England
The ๖ۜBronx;252063950 said:
Second to top post there, to add some discussion point.

It's a completely stupid point.

I can't imagine anything will get done with this current government because they're currently all trying to figure out the best way to keep their jobs.
 

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
The ๖ۜBronx;252063950 said:
Second to top post there, to add some discussion point.

Games ARE already regulated for violence/sex. 15/18+ ratings. That would be like saying scrap ratings, just don't buy violent games.

Gambling regulation looks like this



Ultimately with PEGI resisting, I'd rather the UK government takes China's approach to exposed drop rates.
 

SomTervo

Member
Jan 19, 2015
15,311
2
0
Scotland
I wonder how these games function on the Isle. Surely there's no way to check or gate it so it probably doesn't have any impact.
 

Seyfert

Member
Oct 17, 2016
144
22
410
good, so publisher would chill and not try to push lootboxes furthurmore. This year is big step leap in gambling on triple A titles... SWBF2 is prime example about push this thing big step and step backward a bit so they still jump far enough.
 

Brat-Sampson

Member
Dec 22, 2015
404
0
0
Fantastic. This is definitely one of those things that's only given free reign because nobody with any responsibility knows what it is.

It bears repeating, why did Blizzard go out of their way to not reveal probabilities/loot odds in China? Legally, they were supposed to, but it was a better idea for them to find and utilize a loophole than to simply let the odds be publicized.

How is that not weird to everyone?
 

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
If they toss it over to the Gambling Commission then, assuming anything happens at all (unlikely), we get every game with lootboxes branded 18+ and lootboxes don't actually go anywhere.

If treated as gambling, odds will need to be known (or that is very likely).

Ultimately, most of our debates around this should just be trying to get to known odds listed, not loot boxes banned. Gambling regulation will lead to known odds, or if that is knocked back as I said about the UK government could demand Chinese like drop rate transparency for buyers to know what chances they're throwing money at.
 

SomTervo

Member
Jan 19, 2015
15,311
2
0
Scotland
If they toss it over to the Gambling Commission then, assuming anything happens at all (unlikely), we get every game with lootboxes branded 18+ and lootboxes don't actually go anywhere.

Good point. Although it would be useful to at least take China's approach where we have to publish lootbox RNG numbers.
 

Principate

Saint Titanfall
Dec 17, 2011
16,559
0
570
Fantastic. This is definitely one of those things that's only given free reign because nobody with any responsibility knows what it is.

It bears repeating, why did Blizzard go out of their way to not reveal probabilities/loot odds in China? Legally, they were supposed to, but it was a better idea for them to find and utilize a loophole than to simply let the odds be publicized.

How is that not weird to everyone?
Of course it was weird everyone who was watching that situation knew blizzard was being extremely shady and still is.
 

JonnyDBrit

Member
May 14, 2015
7,470
5
0
In this regard it might go better than usual because as a subject matter it's rather outside the interests and/or personal beliefs of most Tories I'd wager. On the same note, it might be easier to rally up support and involvement from multiple parties - in so much finding those that actually do care about video games and their effects - rather than just the Conservatives. If it has to go to Parliament, it might end up actually balanced.

But by the same token, I am a little wary nonetheless. This is a government more than willing to either springboard from one problem into a range of 'solutions', and well, has demonstrated that despite their desire for a well developed internet infrastructure, many of them fundamentally do not understand the technologies they are attempting to legislate. Anyone whose followed the debate around encryption here in the UK will understand what I mean.
 

Thatanas

Member
Nov 18, 2015
481
2
280
Fantastic. This is definitely one of those things that's only given free reign because nobody with any responsibility knows what it is.

It bears repeating, why did Blizzard go out of their way to not reveal probabilities/loot odds in China? Legally, they were supposed to, but it was a better idea for them to find and utilize a loophole than to simply let the odds be publicized.

How is that not weird to everyone?

They did reveal the averages, but not the core system or actual percentages in a loot box. But the answer is obviously money. It's not so much weird as it's just scummy.
 

billyxci

13 year old console warrior. Put me on ignore.
Aug 3, 2014
13,819
8,747
1,040
Something does need to be done about lootboxes but I don't think they need regulated as gambling. For example how are Overwatch loot boxes any different to buying a pack of pokemon cards? It's a product I'm buying and I know that I'll get x amount of cards and what the chances are of a rare/common/holo card are. It's just luck what specific cards you get. That isn't gambling like putting money into a slot machine in the hope you'll get money back.

Any developer selling loot boxes need to give more clarity on the chances of getting specific items. I thought Blizzard had to do this in china? I'm up for that being applied to all studios in every country.

I just don't trust the UK government. They'll jump at this and be all like well you asked! Yet when we try stand up against censorship and blocking websites and porn they just are like Nope fuck you.
 

Uzzy

Member
Mar 2, 2014
7,740
0
0
Everyone could write to their MP ask them to back this.

Indeed, I'll be dropping my MP an email doing just that. There's some pretty simple legislative steps that governments could take to make loot boxes better, such as demanding that the odds are published. Gambling machines already have to clearly display the return to player figure.
 

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
Indeed, I'll be dropping my MP an email doing just that. There's some pretty simple legislative steps that governments could take to make loot boxes better, such as demanding that the odds are published. Gambling machines already have to clearly display the return to player figure.

If you sign the petition link in the first post it automatically gives you a link to your local MPs details (email) to let them know you signed it.

It has now passed the 10k mark

 

Azure Phoenix

Member
Oct 1, 2009
6,918
0
0
UK
Given our current government is in full "won't somebody please think of the children" mode I can see this actually going somewhere, although my concern is that rather than discourage developers from being scummy with lootboxes we'll just end up like Germany and either get cut versions of games or not get them at all.
 

SolidSnakex

Member
Jun 7, 2004
85,483
4
0
Finally some real action on this (with any luck)

Devs should be forced to patch out and rebalance any non cosmetic loot boxes if this gains traction

If this gains any traction then expect the industry to go to war over it. Loot boxes are a rather perfect end game for them from a financial standpoint. They're something that can essentially nullify a loss of sales. A game may sell less than a previous entry, but if the loot boxes work the way they're intended then the game will get some whales that'll pump enough cash into the loot boxes to make up for lost sales.
 

Raide

Member
Oct 29, 2007
24,342
1
0
Just slap warnings on the boxes and watch the vast majority of people/parents ignore them. If someone wants to burn a load of money on dumb boxes, nothing will stop them. Warning about content does not stop kids playing 18 rated games, so why should this stop for lootbox stuff?
 

Council Pop

Member
Mar 9, 2016
670
1
0
This is a great idea, but lol, just knew it would bring out the right wing libertarians shouting "censorship!" and "no government regulation!".

To people who say "I don't trust this government"- it's not the government who are raising this, it's the opposition. The government are very very lax on much needed gambling regulations (see the struggle to finally regulate fixed odds betting terminals), so I would be suprised if this resulted in any real action yet, but it lays the ground work for the future. And obviously it's not going to result in "the UK government banning video games!!!!"- the game industry is such a huge part of the UK economy now that just wouldn't be possible, even if there was any political motivation to do so, which there isn't.
 

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
Just slap warnings on the boxes and watch the vast majority of people/parents ignore them. If someone wants to burn a load of money on dumb boxes, nothing will stop them. Warning about content does not stop kids playing 18 rated games, so why should this stop for lootbox stuff?

Trying to stop them is the wrong response. Regulation and transparency is the path most are trying to go down. Prohibition of just about anything legal is dumb/counterproductive (gambling is legal when regulated properly).

Drop rates needing to be listed will ironically probably stop some devs anyway. Or force them to be more generous in their games and less preying.
 

jwhit28

Member
Feb 27, 2010
6,102
2
0
North Carolina
Something does need to be done about lootboxes but I don't think they need regulated as gambling. For example how are Overwatch loot boxes any different to buying a pack of pokemon cards? It's a product I'm buying and I know that I'll get x amount of cards and what the chances are of a rare/common/holo card are. It's just luck what specific cards you get. That isn't gambling like putting money into a slot machine in the hope you'll get money back.

Any developer selling loot boxes need to give more clarity on the chances of getting specific items. I thought Blizzard had to do this in china? I'm up for that being applied to all studios in every country.

I just don't trust the UK government. They'll jump at this and be all like well you asked! Yet when we try stand up against censorship and blocking websites and porn they just are like Nope fuck you.

A pack of Pokemon cards will always exist and it's possible to by single cards in the after market. If I want Charizard or Ken Griffey Jr I just go pay whatever the asking price is. I don't pay $5 at a time rolling the dice over and over. The refusal to acknowledge that this stuff actually has value doesn't mean the stuff coming out of loot boxes doesn't have value.
 

travisbickle

Member
Mar 26, 2006
14,928
0
0
Is this the man who was voted in last election, and didn’t have a suit on the night so they went down to Tesco to pick one out?
 

TrueBlue

Member
Jul 23, 2011
4,779
0
0
I've put money down for OW loot boxes, but I'll sign for this. Just having the odds displayed would be enough for me.

As long as they don't go overboard in regulation for games in general, I see no issue with this.
 

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
Is this the young lad who was voted in last election, and didn’t have a suit on the night so they went down to Tesco to pick one out?

If you mean the MP then no, I don't think so. I updated the OP with a link to his twitter. He's not a "young lad" anyway lol.
 

Raide

Member
Oct 29, 2007
24,342
1
0
Trying to stop them is the wrong response. Regulation and transparency is the path most are trying to go down.

Drop rates needing to be listed will ironically probably stop some devs anyway. Or force them to be more generous in their games and less preying.

I guess the hard thing is putting the odds of a certain item dropping, what does it really change? 3% for that explosive shot upgrade, is that good or bad? If the odds are higher with paid boxes, then I can see why some might get upset but how much higher is a problem?
 

travisbickle

Member
Mar 26, 2006
14,928
0
0
If you mean the MP then no, I don't think so. I updated the OP with a link to his twitter. He's not a "young lad" anyway lol.


Totally mixed up stories, don’t worry about it. The man who didn’t have a suit was in his 30s! I thought he was young because he was first time MP.
 

jelly

Member
Oct 14, 2013
16,619
1
0
It's probably worth forwarding things like the Kotaku, Eurogamer etc. articles to help open their eyes a bit more as well as a personal opinion.
 

Plague Doctor

Member
Mar 23, 2015
2,722
3,315
705
Excellent. I really wish the ESRB and PEGI would have handled this inhouse instead of dismissing it so quickly, but it's good to some in the UK taking the issue seriously.
 

Jonnax

Member
Jun 23, 2013
4,562
0
0
Write to your MP, if you're British. You can find out who they are here:

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/


MP's Name
House of Commons,
London,
SW1A 0AA

Use this address.
If you've never sent a letter before, go to a supermarket or corner shop and asked for stamps, envelopes are usually also available.

Also don't get some shitty template online.
Write about what you believe the problems are and what you believe the goverenment should do.

This can be how you see things like FIFA ultimate teams is exploiting the youth with gambling psychology.

You can provide references to talks by game devs at trade conferences where they talk about using gambling psychology to extract more revenue.

You can talk about how the odds are opaque. And could have users buying these loot boxes for an 0.0001 chance of getting their desired item.
Explain how China has enacted a law that all percentage chances have to be published.
And that because it's only mandated in China, they have different percentage chances outside China.

Talk about the problem, propose some solutions. Etc.

Also you can talk about how the "independent" ratings groups have responded inadequately.

This isn't on the radar of most MPs even gaming isn't. So you may need to explain the importance of this.


If you're not in the UK also consider writing to your own representative about it.
 

Audioboxer

Member
May 11, 2010
21,939
11
820
UK
I guess the hard thing is putting the odds of a certain item dropping, what does it really change? 3% for that explosive shot upgrade, is that good or bad? If the odds are higher with paid boxes, then I can see why some might get upset but how much higher is a problem?

More transparency is always best when you're asking someone to roll the dice with their money. If people want to risk their money for something not guaranteed that is up to them.

I guess you could satirise why not sell alcohol without the alcohol % listed? People are going to drink it anyway?

There's some satisfaction from most gamers as well to ferret out the worst pubs/devs when it comes to charging money for RNG and giving people like 1~10% chances. Plus some speculation that pubs/devs will manipulate their own market drop rates behind the scenes as and when it benefits them. That is not a pleasant thing to imagine, but right now completely do-able without anyone knowing.
 

jdstorm

Banned
Jan 21, 2016
5,940
1
0
Buying Pokemon cards will just be a casualty. Before they were a funn loophole not bothering too many people. Now loot boxes are too exploitative and need regulation, so card packs will have to be included.