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Loot boxes in online games and their effect on consumers [pdf] (europa.eu)
33 points by infodocket 36 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 9 comments

What amazes me is it's about a dozen years since the concept of a "whale" emerged in gaming, and it keeps coming back to obfuscating transactions so children will blindly spend thousands of dollars. So far Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all been sued and lost for it, Facebook even called it "friendly fraud". It just never ends in spite of overwhelming evidence of fraud.






I've been saying this for awhile, and on top of it you've got microtransaction and loot boxes which are essentially online games of chance which under the lottery rules and regulations aren't even allowed in some states and provinces on top of it they're marketed towards the children. I think in the future when we look back at this time we're going to see gaming companies that have gone bankrupt in order to pay for the gambling addictions and long-term damaging effects that these are on children and or adults. Developing and forming the brain of vulnerable players to become addicted to gambling and who knows what other types of effects I could have on addictions if the brain is developed into becoming addicted to gambling it's such a young age. I really think the parents need to monitor their kids and understand what they're doing just because something is a game does not mean that it's for children for example I don't know how many times there's been kids like 12 years old in online party chats on Playstation with adults and also playing rated r games which I find f terrifying and so happy I don't have kids so if there are parents reading this please don't let your kid have a microphone and be unsupervised and please don't be an enabler to their wanting to get items for a game out of supply drops and and please understand that these are merely the equivalent of scratch off tickets marketed towards children.

I have a 7 and an 8 year old and I'm a game developer. We have a hard rule in the family that we never buy virtual currency or virtual items. Not even once for consistency.

I'm not super concerned about them developing a gambling addition, I'm more concerned with buying "virtual" stuff they the don't really own, and only lasts as long as a games server are up.

I don't have a problem with paying for gaming services, we have Apple and Xbox games subscriptions. I also don't have a problem for buying a premium game where there is a once off purchase.

You mean like... games themselves?

You virtually purchase them, for platforms whose core servers get turned off so the game no longer works. No physical media, no long term guarantees of operation.

"profitable until deemed illegal". These apps are just A/B testing to exploit and drive compulsive behavior and they cause the most damage on those susceptible to addiction and impulse control issues. It's continual experiments to optimize for abusing the weakness of the human psyche. At best people get some excitement from the thrill of a spin, at worst, you're going to turn susceptible people in junkies and cause financial ruin for a few families

Not only that, but there are active agents by the game authors working as "fellow" players that actively foment conflict to get players to buy the pay-to-win options.

The social manipulation is far more insidious than what casinos do.

Key Finding is "However, there is no consensus on a causal link between loot boxes and harmful behaviour."

The key finding, embodied in the sentences immediately before the one you quoted, is that more research is needed because there is not enough firm data to form a consensus.

I suspect the lack of consensus regarding gambling mechanics in games is along the lines of the former 'lack of consensus' surrounding the causal link between smoking and lung disease or the current 'lack of consensus' connecting CO2 emissions and global warming, however. Namely, a manufactured dispute created to defend the indefensible.

“Previous analyses revealed that problem gambling and paying for loot boxes are related.“ Parent quote is qualifying this to say correlation is not causation.

The second page ends with a recommendation for EU-wide restrictions to protect children from loot boxes.

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