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EA Reacts to European Regulators Classifying Loot Boxes as Gambling

EA Reacts to European Regulators Classifying Loot Boxes as Gambling

Electronic Arts’ responded to select regulatory bodies in Europe now classifying loot boxes as gambling. The discussion took place during the conference call where EA released Q4 and fiscal year 2018 results. EA is notorious for including, sometimes seemingly malicious, loot boxes in their games. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was the most recent loot box controversy that the gigantic game company stirred up and the latest announcement by countries like Belgium could put this relatively new revenue stream for video game developers in jeopardy.

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Belgium had a complete ban on “games of chance” since 1999 until 2010 when illegal games of chance began getting out of control. The Gaming Commission was instituted to regulate any games they considered to be gambling. The Belgian Gaming Commission reviewed a total of four games, Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and CS:GO and found all but Star Wars Battlefront 2 were classified as “games of chance”.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 removed their loot boxes during the investigation, which avoided any backlash over the game that brought about so much hate from the entire gaming community.

The Double-Edged Sword

EA’s products weren’t the only games mentioned in the investigation but EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson still felt compelled to make a statement during the call. He stated, “We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously. We care deeply that our players are having a fun and fair experience in all of our games, and take great care to ensure each game is marketed responsibly, including in compliance with regional ratings standards. We welcome the dialogue with Minister Geens on these topics, as we do not agree that our games can be considered as any form of gambling.” https://bit.ly/2rt7dwg

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The company is putting on a strong face for investors as FIFA Ultimate Team is still incredibly profitable. However, losing out to a market like Belgium could have a bit of an impact on their earnings. With a population of a little over 11 million, it can be compared to losing out on a market with the same population as the state of Pensylvania. 

The Battle Isn’t Over

EA has a global reach and isn’t expected to give up without a fight. Gamers and governments all around the world have recently been contemplating if loot boxes are a form of gambling. Before more European countries follow suit and classify loot boxes as gambling, EA will need to aggressively campaign in order to convince global policymakers that what they’re doing is different than a trip to a casino.

Microtransactions and loot boxes are a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are companies like Blizzard that use loot boxes for their massively popular first-person shooter, Overwatch. Blizzard is able to release free DLC’s and consistently support their creation because of the steady revenue generated by their loot boxes. On the other hand, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and their original loot box system that was essentially “Pay to Win” for multiplayer. This blatant money grab threw the gaming community into an uproar, and for a good reason. Gamers don’t want to put their time into a game, only to be trampled online because a person dumped extra money on loot boxes. 

There’s no telling what the future will hold for loot boxes but this is a monumental development for the gaming community around the world. Gigamax Games will keep an eye out for any more news on this battle against loot boxes and what this means for the video game industry as a whole.

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Microtransactions Pay Off Big For Activision Blizzard

Microtransactions Pay Off Big For Activision Blizzard

Microtransactions are a huge source of revenue for the video game publisher Activision Blizzard. The company announced today in an earnings report that revenue from “in-game net bookings,” which contains DLC sales, loot boxes, and in-app purchases on mobile games, reached $4 billion in 2017. The fourth quarter alone secured the company $1 billion for additional content sold.

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Around $2 billion of Activision Blizzard’s revenue in 2017 came from in-game net booking’s in their mobile subsidiary, King, which owns and operates Candy Crush. The other $2 billion came from Activision Blizzard’s console and PC efforts, along with the rest of their mobile ventures like Hearthstone. These two revenue streams were pointed out by Daniel Ahmad, an industry analyst, on Twitter.

More Games, More Money

Call of Duty: WWII offers microtransactions that give players their own in-game currency, Call of Duty Points. These points can then be used to purchase in-game items like loot boxes that net players cosmetics for their avatars. Additionally, Activision recently launched the first paid DLC pack, Resistance, which is being sold at $14.99 USD. In Overwatch, players spend their money on loot boxes that offer a variety of different skins and other cosmetic items. World of Warcraft also offers a vast in-game economy allowing players to spend real-world money on mounts, pets, and a host of other items.

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The Trend Continues

Microtransactions are a growing trend throughout the gaming industry with many companies jumping on the bandwagon. EA recently suffered serious backlash with their title Star Wars Battlefront II, which players believed contained a very hostile microtransaction system.

Not every modern game contains a microtransaction system. However, it is becoming a major profit earner and difficult to ignore for many businesses in the industry. Especially when Activision Blizzard was able to put up numbers like the $4 billion in revenue earned. Hopefully, gamers can continue to fight toxic systems like the one EA tried to put in place and show developers what a proper loot box structure should look like.

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Loot Box Madness: There’s A Right Way And Wrong Way

Loot Box Madness: There’s A Right Way And Wrong Way

The loot box trend hit the gaming community hard. Nearly every new release, especially when it comes to multiplayer games seem to have embraced this worrisome trend. Popping up more and more, gamers are beginning to get used to seeing the option to purchase in-game currency to open up these mystery chests.  However, there is both a right way and wrong way developers can go about incorporating these controversial additions into their games.

UPDATE: EA is pulling the microtransactions. According to Kotaku, EA will be suspending all microtransactions after backlash from the gaming community.  Find the latest Breaking News at the bottom of this article.

The Overwatch Effect

When taking a look at one of the world’s most popular first-person shooters, Overwatch, the loot boxes are a relatively welcomed addition. Only containing cosmetic items, players will never receive anything that will give them an advantage over other gamers. Even though they do cost real-world money, they are completely optional. Furthermore, every item that can drop can be unlocked by opening up normal loot boxes that the game gives people once a player reaches a new level.  

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The other spectacular feature that Overwatchs’ loot box systems allows the developer to do is offer all their additional content for free. There is absolutely no charge for any new characters, maps or anything else that Blizzard adds to the game and that benefits everyone involved. Even if a player never purchases a single loot box, they reap the rewards of Overwatch implementing their loot box system. Also, that same gamer that never spent a dime on loot box has the chance to unlock any skin, emote or tag the game has to offer. This is the right way to handle loot boxes.

Pay To Win

Two games, in particular, have caught fire from the video game community for their loot box practices. Starting with Shadow of War, the loot boxes are not necessary to complete the main story. Opening up their little mystery boxes have a chance to roll epic or legendary orcs that players can add to their army but these powerful orcs aren’t absolutely critical in order to progress. However, at the very end of the game (no spoilers), there’s a point where these epic orcs can cut down on hours of grinding. Without purchasing these special orcs, because honestly, that’s exactly what those loot boxes are, people need to spend dozens of hours grinding and dominating orc after orc to find a special ending.

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| BREAKING NEWS | Star Wars Battlefront II: EA Announcement 

Now moving over to the prime example of the wrong way to handle the loot box system with Star Wars Battlefront II. EA created an environment that completely favored those willing to spend money on loot boxes. Battlefield II loot crates offered in-game gun attachments or star cards that actually provided an advantage for players. Gamers that refused to purchase loot boxes wouldn’t just be leaving a new skin, or a secret ending on the table, this time it will hold people back from having an enjoyable multiplayer experience. However, EA made an announcement on 11/16/2017 at 5:24pm on Twitter that they will be turning off all microtransactions on Star Wars Battlefront II. This is breaking news and it is expected EA will make a few more announcements regarding how they will be handing in-game purchases. Gigamax will be keeping a close eye on these developments so don’t forget to stop by soon and see what’s in store. 

Below The Gigamax Crew Offers Their Impression On The Loot Box Scandal 

Let’s Not Set This Precedent 

There’s a right way and wrong way to handle the loot box situation. EA showed the worst part of the gaming industry with their loot box system. EA’s AMA on Reddit was an absolute disaster, avoiding questions and deleting comments, they know what they did. Battlefront was an absolute flop and it seems EA was trying to use the loot box system to ensure they made their money with this new game. Overwatch is an excellent example of how to handle the loot box situation, Battlefront II and Shadow of War is spitting in the faces of gamers everywhere. Businesses need to make money, but forcing people to buy in-game items with real-world money is not the right way to go about doing so.

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