Loot Crate Update 2019 | On The Level: NG+ Gaming News


When you see me sitting here at the news desk
about to start another On The Level you don’t know what I’ll talk about. Will I discuss exploitation in esports? Will I go into the flaming train wreck that
is AAA game development? Will my jokes be funny for once? It’s an endless possibility space…kinda
like opening up a loot box? That’s right, gather your mates and sit
up straight it’s time for another Loot Crate Update. Brought to you by Seagate: Create and back-date
your duplicates on first-rate solid-states. Now, let’s begin by returning to Belgium, home
of Spa-Francorchamps and Moules-frites and certainly no other stereotypes about food. Last time we checked in, the Belgian Gaming
Commission had just declared that loot boxes were a form of gambling. Game publishers have since reflected and
reconsidered their monetisation models and have come up with something that’s
fairer for the players. (laughs) Of course they didn’t, they just disabled
loot boxes in Belgium whilst keeping them for the rest of the world. Companies like Valve, 2K and Blizzard complied
quickly. However EA, whose FIFA games were specifically
called out by the Commission, refused to budge and they insisted that FIFA Ultimate Team packs
did not constitute gambling. This is despite the fact that they
very much do. It’s…ah…hmmm…oh, I got it. It’s kinda like writing a report saying attempting
to clear your organisation of corruption all the while participating in corrupt acts. Huh, it’s like I pulled that example out of
nowhere. Finally, nine months after the Commission
handed down its ruling, EA relented and blocked Belgian FIFA players from buying the premium
currency to purchase Ultimate Team packs. I guess Belgians can finally use this extra money
to buy a whole bunch of other games. Or waffles. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. But it isn’t only the Belgian government
that is taking on loot boxes. See also America, the home of the Daytona
Speedway, chicken ‘n’ waffles and one chicken-coloured waffler. It is also the home to Republican Senator
Josh Hawley, seen here winning third place in his local Nicolas Cage lookalike competition. You’ll win that Face Off one day Josh! He announced a bill aimed at banning loot
boxes and pay-to-win mechanics, called the Protecting Children From Abusive Games
Act, which sounds like it should protect kids from the game Anthem. Although really, even
adults need protection from that hot mess. There are questions about how the proposed
laws will work in practice. The bill is targeted at “minor-oriented
games” which contrary to expectations aren’t games that are only played deep
inside gold mines. Rather, the term covers any game which could
be played by kids under the age of 18. So…basically every video game ever? Call of Duty can have as many Mature stickers
as it wants but based off of the squeaky voice chat I encounter when I play that game the average age of that game’s player base
has to be 11 years old. If this bill passes, how will it be enforced? We simply don’t know. Maybe every game with loot boxes will have
to be classified as Adults Only. Maybe we’ll just get an age gate which as
the history of the internet has proven is 100% effective at stopping kids from accessing
grown-up material — that’s just science. How will it affect mobile games produced outside
of America? Could it impact digital card games like
Magic Arena? Oh dip, Magic Arena… Okay, that’s it US lawmakers — now you’ve
made this personal. You are gonna have to pry my Magic cards
from my cold dead ha– – You can have this back when you’ve calmed down.
– Yes, boss. In late May, the bill was brought into Congress
with the support of Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, seen here after
opening 50 Magic boosters without opening that rare Teferi card they so badly want. By the way, you heard that right: Republicans
and Democrats have actually come together to agree on something! Granted it wasn’t on something like climate
change or the rights of minorities but, ah, small successes and all that. The bill has a while yet before it becomes law but the game industry is already attacking it. The Entertainment Software Association has
called the legislation flawed and riddled with inaccuracies. The ESA has called on the bill’s co-sponsors
to work with the association to raise awareness on ‘the tools and information in place that
keep the control of video game play and in-game spending in parents’ hands
rather than the government’s.’ Er, game publishers, you may not want to play
the self-regulation card given how badly you’ve let loot boxes and pay-to-win spiral out of
control. Which brings me, as most things do, to Harry
Potter. Hogwarts Mystery was released last year as
a free to play mobile game and those words should immediately
fill you with dread much like ‘System update required’ and
‘The new Imagine Dragons album’. Nobody deserves Imagine Dragons. Hogwarts Mystery restricts your story progress
whenever you run out of energy so far so usual. However, the first time that you will run
out of energy is during this scene. Yep, right as your character is being choked
to death with vines the game forces you to cough up
premium currency to progress or to wait a couple of hours. JK Rowling would be outraged at what’s
happening to her universe ..if she wasn’t too busy tweeting about Hagrid’s porno collection or whatever. Now, much like those vines, governments are clearly
putting the pressure on the game industry and it’s working. The Google Play store will now require games
with loot boxes to disclose their odds. And games themselves are increasingly moving away
from loot boxes and towards Battle Passes which provides rewards via progress rather
than through luck. Some games have adopted them, but Dota 2 has
well and truly weaponised them. One of the rewards in the International 2019
Battle Pass is an evolving voice line which gets longer for every 100 levels you gain. And when I say gain I pretty much mean buy
at US$45 per 100 levels. And boy oh boy have people bought. Up to level ten thousand. Level fifteen thousand. And level Saudi oil tycoon. That may sound like a joke, but it turns out
the owner of that account is literally a Prince of Saudi Arabia. Won’t the publishers and lawmakers think
of the poor, poor incredibly rich oil royals?! And that will do it for this edition of
the Loot Crate Update. Will this debate dissipate by the next date? Or will magistrates be fated to interrogate
and incarcerate? Either way, it’ll be sure to fascinate. And that is everything that has happened in
the world, ever.

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