This Week In The Business: Legislators And Loot Boxes

Image credit: John Williams, via Flickr
Image credit: John Williams, via Flickr

QUOTE | “The prevalence of in-game microtransactions, often referred to as ‘loot boxes,’ raises several concerns surrounding the use of psychological principles and enticing mechanics that closely mirror those often found in casinos and games of chance.” - Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) has asked the ESRB to detail when loot boxes are used in physical games, and to publish data on how much money players spend on them.


QUOTE | “I grew up playing games my whole life. I’ve watched firsthand the evolution of the industry from one that seeks to create new things to one that’s begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit.” - Hawaii state representative Chris Lee (D), who introduced anti-loot box legislation this week to prohibit the sale of games with randomized rewards to children, and to require disclosure of drop rates and warning labels for games with loot box mechanics.

QUOTE | “When we’ve been talking to potential investors and other folks, for the vast majority we talk very, very deeply about more gameplay-oriented things. I got more questions about what the favorite weapons and behemoths are than I did about whether or not we’d have similar purchase rates for loot boxes or bespoke purchases.” - Phoenix Labs CEO Jesse Houston said his investors didn’t raise a fuss about the decision to remove loot boxes from Dauntless.

STAT | 69% - The number of polled gamers who said they were ok with microtransaction models like loot boxes as long as they were for cosmetic items only. Only 2.4% said they’d prefer to pay “upfront” for the items they want.

QUOTE | “The biggest thing I had to do when I went to esports was take a breath, because there were no contracts. And the contracts [they did have] were so criminally written, it was terrible.” - Esports talent agent Ryan Morrison talks about the massive change the industry has seen in just a few years and the impending arrival of players unions.

QUOTE | “I hate Dota 2. It’s five minutes into a match and my team is already down eight kills. I try to stay positive, but deep down I know there is no way we’re winning this game. Mistakes were made, and the enemy carry is two-shotting me now. Why do I even play this game?” - Ghost Story Games lead programmer Erik Irland explains why he loves Dota 2.

STAT | $149.6 million - The amount THQ Nordic paid to acquire Koch Media (including Deep Silver), which purchased the Saints Row and Metro IP from the original THQ during its bankruptcy proceedings in 2013.


STAT | 52% - The one-week jump in share price Atari enjoyed after it announced that it will be rolling out two cryptocurrencies, one of which would be created specifically for an online gambling platform.

QUOTE | “Rare as a studio has notoriously been quite secretive. We’d pop a game out every few years like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.” - Rare studio head Craig Duncan contrasts the company’s usual way of doing things with the comparatively open development of Sea of Thieves.


QUOTE | “2K can confirm that there have been staff reductions at Hangar 13 in order to ensure that the studio’s resources are properly aligned with its long-term development plans. These reductions will not influence 2K’s ability to create and deliver its products that are currently in development.” - 2K Games confirms that Mafia III developer Hangar 13 has undergone a significant round of layoffs.

QUOTE | “To me, a good company culture is like oxygen. You won’t miss it until it’s gone, and if you don’t continuously work with your corporate culture, it’s going to turn sour or go away.” - Paradox Entertainment CEO Fredrik Wester discusses the difficulty of maintaining company culture over a period of growth. Wester is stepping down as CEO after 9 years, to be succeeded by current Paradox board member Ebba Ljungerud.


That Lamer

Only 2.4% said they’d prefer to pay “upfront” for the items they want.

This is a really sad statistic, and to me it says how effective companies have been at getting the gambling hooks into people. It’s sad that nobody has the balls to propose an outright ban on loot boxes, instead of simply restricting them for children. Many of whom it’s too late for, and will still get these products anyway because that’s how it’s always worked with video games.