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Apple Says Apps Must Now Disclose Odds For Loot Boxes (kotaku.com) 88

Apple has revised the guidelines for its App Store, including a provision that loot boxes must be transparent about their odds. "Apps offering 'loot boxes' or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase," reads the new rule, which will affect the most popular games on iOS, including Hearthstone, The Simpsons Tapped Out, and Clash Royale. Kotaku reports: Loot boxes, which have always been common in the world of iOS gaming, are virtual grab bags that can give players a host of items ranging from common to rare. Most of the time, you can buy these loot boxes not just for in-game currency but for real money, which has led some players to classify them as gambling -- a label that the Entertainment Software Rating Board doesn't acknowledge. As rage over these practices gets louder and louder, Apple's move is the first of what may be many steps that game publishers and distributors voluntarily take in an attempt to avoid regulation from outside bodies.
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Apple Says Apps Must Now Disclose Odds For Loot Boxes

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  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday December 21, 2017 @08:56PM (#55786847)
    to self regulate fast before the government does it for them.
    • Translation - the industry's desperately trying 'self-regulate' - aka squeeze every last drop out of its customers - fast, before the government regulates for them.
    • Which is a good thing. If the industry can be a good citizen then they don't need strict rules.
      Strict rules can get in the way of innovation, and law makers are not really smart enough to come up with all encompassing laws that proctect from current problems, however allow for future needs.

      With the industry saying you need to explain your odds, before people pay money, can stop the government releasing rules saying the source code needs to be available, and a long form disclosure needs to be signed.

  • by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Thursday December 21, 2017 @08:57PM (#55786853)
    This is like telling an alcoholic the alcohol content of the drink in their hand, and expecting them to quit immediately.

    Addicts don't really care about odds.
    • They're probably just doing this to get the attention of the FTC so that Apple's not the bad guy here. They'd rather get an official ruling that it's illegal than risk having to refund customers to keep them happy. Gambling is technically illegal in the entire US except for charity and state governments and a few other exceptions (like Nevada and Atlantic City).

      If people are spending real money on these, it stands to reason they could be classified as such. Regardless of whether you agree with the laws o

    • 1) not all addicts will start getting addicted if they know in advance the odds.There are various degree of addiction, some can't help, some just need a little bit of proding, not all are helpless. Addiction does not imply you cannot stop, addiction at its core is that you engage into an action in spite of knowing it adverse consequences. But every year people stops smoking. Knowing the odds could help this.
      2) it may bring everybody including non addicts to recoil at the real odds. Especially if it is exp
      • 3) it is a step forward. What do you expect ? banning lootboxs outright ?

        Since loot boxes are gambling, and it's illegal for them to sell gambling devices, yes. Yes, I do expect loot boxes to be banned outright. Why do I expect that to happen? Because the state can't reasonably profit from child gambling, and anything unprofitable which harms society must be shut down. (Lots of harmful but profitable things, of course, are permitted to continue.)

        • Actually, there are a number of games which implemented loot boxes the right way. Couple more prominent examples:
          1. Path of Exile with their Mystery Boxes: these loot boxes cost 30c a piece (which is equal to 3 dollars), and the buyer is guaranteed that the item in the loot box would not cost less than 30c, with the average value of the item in the loot box being 110c (11 dollars). So no matter what you find in the box, you still gain. Sure, there's a chance of duplicates but you can use those items on mult

    • Not everyone who drinks alcohol is addicted.
      Not everyone who plays a game is addicted.

      Ofc. I want to know a rough estimate of chance for an item ... why else would I play?

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      They should really take it a step further and require the math being done for the user. Next to each item and its odds should be the average total price to obtain that item.

  • Forcing the State-level lottery commissions to reveal the minuscule odds of a jackpot, and even the insightful math regarding the chance of breaking even over a long enough timeline, has done little, if anything, to diminish lottery sales. [statista.com]
    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      And if people decide they want to take a low odds gamble, that's their choice. I bought a ticket for the 300 million lottery this week. The 2 bucks is worth it for the daydreaming of being rich

      • Yeah I think itâ(TM)s a different phenomena. I still get a lottery ticket every now and then , even though I know the odds of a victory are so low as to barely warrant consideration. Iâ(TM)m not sure about the US , here in west Australia the lottery commission puts all its profits into charity groups , feeding poor folk, environmental cleanup projects and so on. I think itâ(TM)s a pretty good knowing my $2 goes into that , along with a bit of get-rich fantasy , well THOSE odds are pretty good

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Yup.

      Counterpoint: if you win lotto, you generally receive a life-changing amount of money exchangeable for physical goods. If you 'win' a lootbox, you get database record entry related to some random game you're playing.

      Oh, and lootboxes generally cost more than playing lotto anyhow. The pricing is honestly staggering. $100 is the normal high end price and even that doesn't buy you everything.

  • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Thursday December 21, 2017 @09:12PM (#55786917)

    Every pack included common cards and semi-rare to very rare cards. The theoretical resale value of your pack was about what you paid for it according to the game guides. (Yes, I said theoretical)

    It made everyone happy because it ensured that if you bought a full box of packs, you would get some decent stuff. There were no odds of dropping $50-$100 on a box of card packs and box being just crappy common cards.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      And then they added foils and "mythic rares". It's no longer viable to buy a booster box and have good odds of getting a particular card. Not that you need foils to play ... they just prey on 'collecters'.

      Sure every booster has a so-called 'rare'... but no guarantee on anything actually rare.

      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        "Mythic Rare" was the shark jumping moment. Foils, as you say, are just there to feed collectors, but when a bunch of power got wrapped up in a rarity that wasn't guaranteed per pack, it changed the old model. It didn't ruin the game or anything, but it was definitely a lot more random than before.

  • This just makes it MORE like gambling AND ruins the mystery by revealing what items could potentially be won.
    A more PROPER policy to avoid Loot boxes being like gambling would be require all the publishers do these two things:

    (1) Establish a "daily purchase maximum" per player / per-user that is not more expensive than the typical costs of food one eats in a day, for example: you cannot buy more than $5 in loot boxes per day per player per game. AND 3x that as a limited monthly limit, E.G. $25

    • This just makes it MORE like gambling AND ruins the mystery by revealing what items could potentially be won.
      A more PROPER policy to avoid Loot boxes being like gambling would be require all the publishers do these two things:

      (1) Establish a "daily purchase maximum" per player / per-user that is not more expensive than the typical costs of food one eats in a day, for example: you cannot buy more than $5 in loot boxes per day per player per game. AND 3x that as a limited monthly limit, E.G. $25 maximum loot boxes per month, and when that $25 limit is used up, resetting it requires calling a phone number, providing verbal proof that the player is age 18 or higher, and accepts some terms, to reset to $100, and finally, an annual limit of $200 per player that cannot be overridden.

      And, (2) REQUIRE the player pass a skill-based challenge in game for each loot box "purchase"; in other words, simply BUYING a lootbox cannot be done without completing a skill-based challenge first for each purpose OR consuming some in-game resource that player skill was required to obtain ---- Thus changing it from simple Gambling to a Contest-type situation.

      Great example of how regulation leads to unintended side effects worse than the original.

      People want to spend what they want to spend - this would cause a secondary grey market where people RMT in-game currencies and resell / trade on ebay/elsewhere.

      • Lol $5. Many mobile games people blow 100,200, even 500 usd per month. I've even seen someone actually spend 10 thousand usd on a crappy mobile mmo in only a year. Instead of the devs cutting off this guy (who isn't rich), they specially catered to him and treated him as a VIP.
        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Lol $5. Many mobile games people blow 100,200, even 500 usd per month.

          Well, the deal is the kind of chance a person would spend $5 is more like Class II gaming such as Bingo houses,
          and blowing $200 is definitely more like Class III Casino Gambling.

          THAT behavior of blowing large amounts of money $100, $200, $500 is exactly the sort of thing that will get
          the government regulators in to BAN loot crates for everyone.

      • People want to spend what they want to spend - this would cause a secondary grey market where people RMT in-game currencies and resell / trade on ebay/elsewhere.

        And? What is wrong with that?
        Now they know exactly that they get what they pay for!!!

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        People want to spend what they want to spend - this would cause a secondary grey market where people RMT in-game currencies and resell / trade on ebay/elsewhere.

        That's fine, so long as the gray market sellers declare their profits and properly pay tax on them, And that it doesn't allow players to bypass the restrictions on random chance access, OR the game maker creates a Terms of Service policy against it and enforces the ToS by suspending players who violate the rules.

    • Psychologically adding a physical task to the gamble is likely to make it worse. Part of the addiction of pokie machines is the physical action of pulling the leaver and the discontinuous rush of occasionally winning. It creates a cause->pleasure loop in the brain we respond to like good Pavlovian dogs. Any âoeskill testâ requirement is going to be screwed with until the perfect addiction response is obtained (probably automated by A/B testing and maybe some machine learning). These people are

      • But you can't fail to pull the lever, and the outcome is strictly random (or otherwise tweaked in a way beyond your control).

        Make this a genuine *skill* challenge, with clear goal, failure mode, and actually challenging (not a mere formality). Of course losing deprives you of the winnings. Set the difficulty in such a way that, say, 50% players can finish it, and top 30-40% can finish it consistently, every time, while bottom 30-40% fail it consistently.

  • To me it seems like this may have the opposite effect intended - I could see where someone with a real thirst for gambling would be MORE likely to go for a very rare item, than if they thought the item might come along from free look boxes alone.

    Honestly I do not get the loot box hate. I've been playing Star Wars Battlefront II, and they've been fine - I've never felt compelled to spend any real money on them, you earn credits so quickly through normal play you can quickly unlock all the heroes and still b

  • So basically people are raging about voluntary payments in free or almost-free games? How about just not playing those games to begin with? I've found that that is a great way to deal with games I don't like...

    • People are raging because the payouts are random, and they don't know the odds. Whether that's for a virtual item, cash at a casino, or a raffle, knowing the odds is important to make a decision about whether to buy a ticket.

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      I rate that things got to this point to begin with.

  • They should have to disclose the probability that the customer should have bought an android device instead.
  • It's a good first step to curb some of the abuse and limit the gambling, but we know that it won't work very well. People know the odds of winning the lottery, and yet they play. Because humans are incredibly bad at judging chances and probabilities.

  • Never tell me the odds!

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