Lootboxes May Have Finally Hit A Point Of No Return
EA’s Battlefront 2 debacle is the gift that keeps on giving. As you may have already heard from several outlets, foreign governments, due to the mainstream coverage of Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s lootbox system, have started looking into a potential ban or reclassification of the things. Belgium has been looking into it for a while now, but it seems Sweden, Australia, and the local government of Hawaii in the United States have now jumped on board the investigative train. I for one am cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. Countries like Australia have, in the past, been notoriously hardline in regards to anything video game related and I hope that this potential reclassification of lootbox systems as a form of gambling doesn’t further stigmatize games in the region (or have their attitude spread to other countries).
There is a great potential for good to come from this move on the consumer side of things. While I have my doubts about if such a reclassification will even come to pass, the mere threat of it may be enough to cause publishers to step back and rethink their approach to microtransactions, which will likely be nothing but good for all consumers. At the very least lootboxes may become prominent in coming years as new strategies are developed which may be more insidious, but hopefully less actively detrimental to the enjoyment of a game. I’m not holding my breath for the days of most games simply having content that can be unlocked through in-game achievement returning – that ship has sadly long since sailed – but I begin to pine for the days of overpriced cosmetic DLC you could at least buy and know without a shadow of the doubt what precisely you were purchasing.
As for what I believe, rather than hope, will happen Not much I’m afraid. I’d urge people to temper their optimism with a healthy dose of wariness and skepticism. Corporations like EA and Activision-Blizzard have a lot of money and therefore a lot of political weight to throw around worldwide. While I don’t foresee these investigations being quashed, per se, I do see the results of any classification being severely hampered by the corporations’ interests. Best case scenario I see a slight age restriction, for example, I wouldn’t be surprised if games with loot box gambling systems were forced to receive an automatic M rating from the ESRB similar to any game with graphic violence or drug use, and a likely long-term reluctance on the part of publishers to tie their games’ in-game progression to the loot box system due to the backlash EA received from all this.
Still, that would be a marked improvement over the lawless free-for-all we have right now, and any reduction in predatory practices is a welcome step in the right direction in my book.
#Lootboxes May Have Finally Hit A Point Of No Return