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Loot box legislation introduced in Hawaii

Oct 25, 2017
1,672
#1
FYI, this is the same Hawaii state representative, Chris Lee, who was very vocal about the Battlefront 2 loot box controversy. Apparently the legislation was introduced last month, but I don't recall hearing anything about it before this news article today. Also, I should note that this obviously only applies to video game sales in Hawaii if enacted, but it would certainly cause publishers a headache to adhere to different regulations from different states, so they could elect to make some of these changes nationwide.

http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com...-target-video-games-with-rewards-for-a-price/

It might be game over for certain video games in Hawaii after state lawmakers introduced legislation to limit the implementation of electronic gambling systems within the popular pastime.

A quartet of proposed bills introduced last month target exploitative monetization techniques in video games that some fear might psychologically condition players to become addicted to gambling.

The bills highlight a common mechanism referred to as “loot boxes,” wherein players can use real money to purchase an in-game “box” of items. The contents of the box are randomized, with some items being much rarer than others, and cannot be revealed until the box is purchased.

One pair of bills, House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024, would prohibit the sale of any game featuring a system wherein players can purchase a randomized reward using real money to anyone younger than 21 years old.

The other two bills, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would require video game publishers to prominently label games containing such randomized purchase systems, as well as disclose the probability rates of receiving each loot box reward.
Lee said he has worked with legislators from other states and countries to create a widespread response to predatory payment mechanisms. More than half of U.S. states are pursuing some form of loot box oversight legislation, he said.

“If enough of the market reacts, the industry would have to respond and change its practices,” Lee said.
 
Jan 3, 2018
798
#7
Won't this just lead to companies having you purchase a small amount of in-game currency with a "free" lootbox attached? IIRC Blizzard does this in China with Hearthstone and Overwatch to avoid having to show probability rates.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,248
#8
While rates should be known, and if they eventually are great, it still won't change anything as people are still going to buy them.
true, for instance, fire emblem heroes made Nintendo a lot of money despite the rates being given shown.

Still, it might stop them doing shady junk behind the scenes like modifying rates by an on player basis to maximize spending, without telling the player they're doing it.
 
Oct 30, 2017
3,238
California
#10
One pair of bills, House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024, would prohibit the sale of any game featuring a system wherein players can purchase a randomized reward using real money to anyone younger than 21 years old.
how would this even be enforced? rated M games are required to have ID but any retailer that's not GameStop doesn't even bother to check.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,171
O-H-I-O
#12
The goal isn't to stop them from being bought, it's for consumers to know if they're getting ripped off.
I would have to think most people that are buying them know the rates are shit. It's actually not even that hard to get at least a close idea of what percent they are if you keep tabs of what you actually pull. As I said rates should be known and they should have always been, but it won't change anything. It doesn't in Gacha games, and it won't here. The vast majority of people that buy lootboxes every OW event for instance are going to still do it even when it shows that 1% or whatever next to the skin they want.

Now if it keeps them from changing rates around on a whim, then great. (If they do that)
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,280
#14
Games won't be sold in Hawaii and folks who live there will just import them from other states. Fun.

Edit: If this actually catches on in other states, well then that would be something. I wonder how strong the ESA's lobbyists are.
 

10k

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,936
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
#15
I hope this passes. I really want to see if it works. Essentially any game with a loot box gets bumped up to Adult Only rating and gets a nasty logo on the front page cover saying "microtransactions".
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,433
#16
how would this even be enforced? rated M games are required to have ID but any retailer that's not GameStop doesn't even bother to check.
Because it's not the law that they have to check. ESRB is a self-regulating entity, not government enforced. GameStop just chooses to check ID's. They don't have to.

Compare that to buying tobacco or alcohol. This bill would move loot box games into that category. Government regulated.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,026
Mars
#17
While rates should be known, and if they eventually are great, it still won't change anything as people are still going to buy them.
Depending upon how its implemented known rates could help keep companies from personally tailoring their pricing to the individual. That's where I think we'll find the worst exploitation in the future.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,336
Houston, Texas
#18
I’m pretty sure the goal for a lot of people were for them to stop being bought
If their goal is for that to happen through legal means then that's a pipe dream.

Best solution for that is to make them unpopular and not buy them.

I would have to think most people that are buying them know the rates are shit. It's actually not even that hard to get at least a close idea of what percent they are if you keep tabs of what you actually pull. As I said rates should be known and they should have always been, but it won't change anything. It doesn't in Gacha games, and it won't here. The vast majority of people that buy lootboxes every OW event for instance are going to still do it even when it shows that 1% or whatever next to the skin they want.

Now if it keeps them from changing rates around on a whim, then great.
It will at least encourage developers to put out more favorable rates, and generate backlash if they are made less favorable.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,660
#19
I suspect they will fail to pass the first set of bills and succeed at passing the second, but we’ll see.

It sticks out that they split them instead of making it one bill.

Edit:

Oh, the first set includes no updating post launch. Yeah, that's still going to be a harder pitch. Were they to pass, I imagine most would just IP block out Hawaii.
 
Last edited:
Jan 1, 2018
445
#20
About time. If what Lee is saying is true, I'm really interested in seeing how quickly this type of legislation starts popping up in other states.

I imagine the first two bills are going to make a real mess with the ESRB though.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,869
#22
Won't this just lead to companies having you purchase a small amount of in-game currency with a "free" lootbox attached? IIRC Blizzard does this in China with Hearthstone and Overwatch to avoid having to show probability rates.
'If a game has loot boxes, they cannot be bought either with real money or currency bought with real money.'
'If you can buy currency within a game with real money, the game cannot have loot boxes bought with said currency.'

Make laws that observe these kind of principles, leaving as little wiggle room as possible, and it should work. Companies will obviously look for ways to game it but if well thought out and worded correctly, they won't be able to do much.

On a side note, i suck at writing laws.
 
Oct 25, 2017
532
#23
I would not expect any of these bills to get passed this year. The Hawaii state House and Senate are meat grinders, bills usually take multiple sessions to gain any sort of traction, especially ones from junior elected officials.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,171
O-H-I-O
#25
It will at least encourage developers to put out more favorable rates, and generate backlash if they are made less favorable.
This I absolutely agree with and if companies are doing it and I am sure some are then fuck them. The only possible problem I could see is how it's implemented. If for say in OW they only have to show the rates of if you get a common, blue, legendary or whatever the rarities are they could still put individual rates on specific subsets of those rarities. So that D.VA skin is .05% but that Tracer skin is 2% etc. So if we do get rates they need to make sure we are getting individual rates not just rarity rates.
 

Deleted member 11018

User requested account closure
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,419
#26
Well done, i hope we get the same thing over here, despite pressure that is increasing since the practice starts bringing billions.
I hope we get a big sticker "Gambling has risks of addiction, which can lead to personal bankruptcy. If you feel you are loosing control, please seek professional help or call the toll free line xxxxxx" (we have that kind of notice below each gambling/poker etc ads here), or the same thing written in bold with letters as big as the game title for digital storefronts.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,942
#28
The way that is written seems like it could be completely circumvented through virtual currency.
The law seems to specifically state lootboxes purchased directly with real money. By making lootboxes only purchaseable with virtual currency that is bought with real money you're breaking the directness and so not breaking the law.

Didn't Activision Blizzard do something like that with Overwatch in China to circumvent new laws around lootboxes?
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,042
#29
In before corporate apologism / "but how will those poor publishers make any money" / government fear mongering / slippery slope arguments.
Dont forget trading cards, free skins!, and mockingly saying "think of the children!" to people who show concern about children buying lootboxes.
 
Oct 24, 2017
236
Germany
#32
Publicly disclosed probabilities seem like a good idea, but how would they be enforced? Assume an item is listed as being a 50% drop, but after a while enough samples have accumulated publicly to be reasonably certain it's not 50%, would the developer's code and random number generators be audited for potential biases? I'm not seeing details on that in the proposals.

More realistically, if it came to something like this, it would be settled out of court with no audits or anything, I'm aware, but it's an interesting problem to think about.
 
OP
OP
TangoAlphaLima
Oct 25, 2017
1,672
#34
Publicly disclosed probabilities seem like a good idea, but how would they be enforced? Assume an item is listed as being a 50% drop, but after a while enough samples have accumulated publicly to be reasonably certain it's not 50%, would the developer's code and random number generators be audited for potential biases? I'm not seeing details on that in the proposals.

More realistically, if it came to something like this, it would be settled out of court with no audits or anything, I'm aware, but it's an interesting problem to think about.
To some extent, it's practically an honor system. It's the same with those nutritional "facts" on the side of grocery items. They're supposed to be somewhat accurate, but they can be pretty far off. It's potentially easier with video games, if the Attorney General can actually subpoena the code used to compare against what is displayed.
 
Oct 24, 2017
236
Germany
#35
To some extent, it's practically an honor system. It's the same with those nutritional "facts" on the side of grocery items. They're supposed to be somewhat accurate, but they can be pretty far off. It's potentially easier with video games, if the Attorney General can actually subpoena the code used to compare against what is displayed.
Nutritional facts is a great comparison — you're right about that. However, for nutritional facts it'd be easy enough for an investigator to sample some products and determine their own values to compare. For software you run into the problem of probably not having code access without, like you said, a subpoena or even warrant. Since it's specifically about randomness, just giving it a few goes in a blackbox scenario wouldn't be enough, either.

Oh well~ They're still steps in the right direction. Just made me think of an interesting issue it might, but probably won't, lead to.
 
Oct 24, 2017
236
Germany
#37
No way, lol. America is a bit messed up when it comes to liberty but that can't be right. No way ESRB has that kind of power.
Yeah, it would be considered a violation of the First Amendment to make them legally binding. Maybe the issue being quasi-gambling and not the tastefulness of subject matter would change that, but then we aren't really talking about "Teen" or "Mature" ratings anymore.
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,228
#38
Additionally, should the bill pass, publishers will be prohibited from updating a game post-release to feature loot box mechanics.
Hah, going after the shitty practice of opening the floodgates after the reviews are done.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,007
#39
This is amazing. I would never have thought this would be moving so quickly. Here's hoping other states start following suit so the industry is actually forced to address the situation
 
Dec 4, 2017
3,066
Brazil
#42
"One pair of bills, House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024, would prohibit the sale of any game featuring a system wherein players can purchase a randomized reward using real money to anyone younger than 21 years old.

The other two bills, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would require video game publishers to prominently label games containing such randomized purchase systems, as well as disclose the probability rates of receiving each loot box reward."

Very good, a disney game that kids can't play? ho ho ho ho
And now the parents know what they are buying too.
 
Nov 28, 2017
708
#47
Good luck. I don't think it'll work? Prohibiting sales below 21, either games are bought from parents or gifts or from the internet where you simply confirm a DoB, there is no way they can stop this. And as for releasing loot box probabilities, it would be cool to see and it's obvious they are sub 1% for highest tier based on what's already available. Whales will still be whales and buy them.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,825
#48
rated M games are required to have ID
No they aren't. The supreme court took up this case a few years ago. Just like you don't legally have to have an ID to buy a rated R movie, you don't need an ID to buy an M rated game (retailers CAN ask for it because they have the right to refuse sales, but they can not legally require it)
 
Oct 30, 2017
809
#49
Nice.

By the way, it should be address more carefully in term of wording to avoid taking advantage of loophole like Blizzard in China.

It is baby step. at least some shop don't store 21+ rating items.
 
#50
Being a gamer and a libertarian, would I want more state and regulations in my game? I don't know if my answer is "yes" or "no".

Well, congratulations to EA for fucking up the things so much. If wasn't their greed, people would not complain so much and a state representative woudn't actually hear their complains and took a legal action on it.

Maybe in the future, the GTA Online business model would be interest again.