Monday, November 27, 2017

Gambling, Investing and Gaming Loot Boxes

Not being a gamer I have to make an effort to pay attention to what is going on in that sphere but from time to time the effort pays off.
A couple examples:
1) An awareness of NVIDIA three years ago at twenty bucks.
2) Understanding the non-acceptance of the current (and past) iterations of virtual reality.
There are other, not-so-directly capitalist features of gaming and the culture that an observer might be able to extrapolate to the wider world. One was gamer-gate with the online harassment and then the doxxing and attempted destruction of perps and innocents alike followed by the backlash to the backlash which foreshadowed the Hollywood and Washington sexual/power spectrum-disorder of discomfit/harass/assault/rape by a few years.

Another might be the growing concerns about 'Loot boxes' in games.

Loot boxes you say?
In a nutshell they are in-game purchases that speed you on your way through a game and it can add up to real money, micro-transaction by micro-transaction. Star Wars Strategies newsletter did a computation headlined:
"It will take 4,528 hours of gameplay (or $2100) to unlock all base-game content in star Wars: Battlefront 2"

The problem arises when players become so obsessed with progressing quickly through a game's various levels that they are no longer Homo Economicus or as noted in an October post:
In late September, in the course of her talk with Professor Dr. Lustig and his work on sugar and neurotransmitters she casually mentioned the idea that when discussing this stuff the whole concept of Homo Economicus as rational actor goes out the window.
Just mentioned it en passant, no biggie.
The 'she' is the Financial Times' Izabella Kaminska and the point she made may have serious implications for the online world.

It has gotten to the point that on Friday the UK Gambling Commission felt compelled to Issue a statement:
Loot boxes within video games
which addressed legality (legal) but also hinted at potential liability.

Five days ago (pre-UKGC press release) PC Gamer reported "Belgium's Justice Minister calls for loot box ban in Europe"

And trying to get in front of the rising tide of concern the co-founder and CEO of one of the larger publishers made a defense of the revenue stream while stating:
At least one decade ago, I began saying that the relationship we should strive to have with one another is the relationship between an entertainer and an audience. The relationship we need to avoid in our medium is like the relationship between a tobacco company and an addict
That's from WCCF Tech's Gearbox Boss Chimes in on Loot Boxes, Says Studios Need To Avoid Turning Gamers Into Addicts.

We'll be back with part two on some of the possible fall-out for platforms and apps.

This is the piece referenced in Saturday's "Gambling, Investing and Congratulations to Izabella Kaminska of the Financial Times".