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Thread: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

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    EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Games publisher backs down after period of defiance. FIFA Points sales end tomorrow.
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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Meanwhile, those concerned about gambling creeping into video gaming though a 'back door' will be heartened by Belgium's case, as countries like China and Japan are acting to regulate loot boxes and the US FTC are investigating the practice.
    That, exactly.

    Personally, I stopped playing EA games years ago for other (off-topic) reasons, am not in Belgium, and am about as interested in football as I am in acquiring a dose of antibiotic resistant STD (which, for the record, in significantly not interested) but nonetheless I'm entirely with the Belgian and other authorities in stamping down on loot boxes.

    Personally, I want to buy a game, then play it, and not have progress be extorted out of me in in-game costs, because I do regard that as extortion. If I know a game has that, EA or otherwise, I simply won't buy it.

    £30, £40, £50 up-front cost? Fine, if it's a game I want. But then I know what's it's going to cost. Chipping cash out of me as I progress? The hell with that.

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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    EA is now looking for a halo for this policy change.
    Make it worldwide + make it for all games = profit(?)

    Step one - Remove the random chance from MTX.
    Step two - Let people know exactly what they are purchasing and the price and you'll probably gain that halo.
    Step three - As long as the pricing is reasonable and isn't seen as gouging vulnerable people, you should be pretty golden.

    Don't worry EA, unlike you I will not charge for the above.

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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    That, exactly.

    Personally, I stopped playing EA games years ago for other (off-topic) reasons, am not in Belgium, and am about as interested in football as I am in acquiring a dose of antibiotic resistant STD (which, for the record, in significantly not interested) but nonetheless I'm entirely with the Belgian and other authorities in stamping down on loot boxes.

    Personally, I want to buy a game, then play it, and not have progress be extorted out of me in in-game costs, because I do regard that as extortion. If I know a game has that, EA or otherwise, I simply won't buy it.

    £30, £40, £50 up-front cost? Fine, if it's a game I want. But then I know what's it's going to cost. Chipping cash out of me as I progress? The hell with that.
    I actually think you're underselling the issue a bit.

    I mean, it's not just about chipping cash out of people. I'll give a couple of examples.

    Take Just Cause 3. It's a decent game that I've enjoyed playing through, and at Christmas I bought all of the DLC for less than £5. That DLC adds some features that make it easier to complete the core game, and also some additional missions and content. This irks me a bit, since I've bought the core game and now other bits are tacked on that affect the core game for money. Or Mass Effect 2/3 which were heavily story driven games, but held parts of the story and character arc behind a paywall (I refused to pay for that, and still haven't). That really irritates me, because that to me is not far off extorting as you describe it.

    But loot boxes are a whole new level of terrible. Take a game that I actually enjoy - World of Warships. It is free to play, and you can unlock new ships by playing through the game. In order to make money though, the model is to sell gear that makes small modifications to gameplay, speeds up progress, or just directly offers a new ship that will have slightly different characteristics. I accept that as a cost of playing a free to play game, and I choose not to spend money on those things.

    However, they also allow you to buy crates at £2-3 each. In those crates, you can get special ships that are no longer available in the store, but the drop rate is not known. So you could buy 20 crates, and not get a single ship that you want. A chap in the US said on one of the forums recently that he spent $800 on crates to unlock all of the ships that were available in them. Ergo, you could potentially spend >$500 without actually getting the original item that you were looking for.

    To me there is very little difference between this and gambling. If stores want to sell in-game content, then I don't see how we can stop them (other than refusing to participate), but I genuinely think that loot boxes and the like are skirting around legislation.

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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    To me there is very little difference between this and gambling. If stores want to sell in-game content, then I don't see how we can stop them (other than refusing to participate), but I genuinely think that loot boxes and the like are skirting around legislation.
    I would take it further still - loot boxes ARE a form of gambling by definition, and they're an absolute disgrace to the gaming community/industry.

    I can't stand that my younger brother is engaged in this sort of thing with Fortnite. He's 13, and has a kids bank account, and has been completely trustworthy in the past with spending the money he gets from doing paper rounds, but late last year, over the course of a month, he spent £80 on vbucks (or whatever the in-game currency is) in order to unlock skins etc through loot boxes.

    That's more than I've spent on video games in the past year!

    Gambling, like most addictions, is horrible, and I've seen first hand the effects it can have on someones life, so to give people exposure to this at 13 years old is horrendous.



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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    I actually think you're underselling the issue a bit.

    I mean, it's not just about chipping cash out of people. I'll give a couple of examples.

    Take Just Cause 3. It's a decent game that I've enjoyed playing through, and at Christmas I bought all of the DLC for less than £5. That DLC adds some features that make it easier to complete the core game, and also some additional missions and content. This irks me a bit, since I've bought the core game and now other bits are tacked on that affect the core game for money. Or Mass Effect 2/3 which were heavily story driven games, but held parts of the story and character arc behind a paywall (I refused to pay for that, and still haven't). That really irritates me, because that to me is not far off extorting as you describe it.

    But loot boxes are a whole new level of terrible. Take a game that I actually enjoy - World of Warships. It is free to play, and you can unlock new ships by playing through the game. In order to make money though, the model is to sell gear that makes small modifications to gameplay, speeds up progress, or just directly offers a new ship that will have slightly different characteristics. I accept that as a cost of playing a free to play game, and I choose not to spend money on those things.

    However, they also allow you to buy crates at £2-3 each. In those crates, you can get special ships that are no longer available in the store, but the drop rate is not known. So you could buy 20 crates, and not get a single ship that you want. A chap in the US said on one of the forums recently that he spent $800 on crates to unlock all of the ships that were available in them. Ergo, you could potentially spend >$500 without actually getting the original item that you were looking for.

    To me there is very little difference between this and gambling. If stores want to sell in-game content, then I don't see how we can stop them (other than refusing to participate), but I genuinely think that loot boxes and the like are skirting around legislation.
    I thought the issue was loot boxes, though?

    To clarify my abocve comments, which maybe could be misintetpreted, I have no issue with 'extra content', be it DLC or a separately purchasable pack .... IF it expands the original game, rather thsn being intrinsic to what you bought in the first place,

    I mean I buy a game for £40-ish, I expect to be able to play it without having to buy extra bits, and worse yet, buy a 'pig-in-a-poke' where you may or may not get what you really want/need.

    However .... if that 'extra content' is effectively a whole new scenario, that's very different. I've done that numerous times .... though mainly in the days where it might be £15-£20, and effectively was a new game, new levels, new 'monsters'/weapons/maos/levels, etc, basically bolted onto the exusting game engine. Even with that add-on pack, I knew pretty much what I was getting and, up front, what it was going to cost.

    So, I actually agree with you, though there might be a grey area between add--on module, and "DLC". It depends, I guess, on what the DLC is.

    What I object to, and in fact will not buy into, is a game where to progress, or to progress at an acceptable rate, you have to keep sticking your hand in your wallet, possibly again and again. In part, it's because doing that, IMHO, screws up the whole game 'balance'. To me, a game should make me work for it, but also shouldn't make it nearly impossible. Getting that balance right, getting that effort/reward system right, is what makes a decent gsme truly enjoyable it's what brings me back, again and again, wanting more. That is also what gets me buying that scenario pack, if the original game was good enough.

    I hope that clarifies what I meant, espevially by buying a complete game. Even a complete game can have add-ons, provided they add to the game and aren't necessary to enjoy the game I spent that £30-£50 pn, up-front. It must, absolutely MUST be capable of stsnding on it's own, without in-game purchases.

    Maybe that makes me out of toych and old-fashioned but, well, it's kinda like buying a book - I expect to get the whole book and not pay extra for more characters or plot elements. If the author then brings out another book using the same settings, characters, etc but a new or even sub-plot, fine. But I don't expect to pay per clue.

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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    I thought the issue was loot boxes, though?

    To clarify my abocve comments, which maybe could be misintetpreted, I have no issue with 'extra content', be it DLC or a separately purchasable pack .... IF it expands the original game, rather thsn being intrinsic to what you bought in the first place,

    I mean I buy a game for £40-ish, I expect to be able to play it without having to buy extra bits, and worse yet, buy a 'pig-in-a-poke' where you may or may not get what you really want/need.

    However .... if that 'extra content' is effectively a whole new scenario, that's very different. I've done that numerous times .... though mainly in the days where it might be £15-£20, and effectively was a new game, new levels, new 'monsters'/weapons/maos/levels, etc, basically bolted onto the exusting game engine. Even with that add-on pack, I knew pretty much what I was getting and, up front, what it was going to cost.

    So, I actually agree with you, though there might be a grey area between add--on module, and "DLC". It depends, I guess, on what the DLC is.

    What I object to, and in fact will not buy into, is a game where to progress, or to progress at an acceptable rate, you have to keep sticking your hand in your wallet, possibly again and again. In part, it's because doing that, IMHO, screws up the whole game 'balance'. To me, a game should make me work for it, but also shouldn't make it nearly impossible. Getting that balance right, getting that effort/reward system right, is what makes a decent gsme truly enjoyable it's what brings me back, again and again, wanting more. That is also what gets me buying that scenario pack, if the original game was good enough.

    I hope that clarifies what I meant, espevially by buying a complete game. Even a complete game can have add-ons, provided they add to the game and aren't necessary to enjoy the game I spent that £30-£50 pn, up-front. It must, absolutely MUST be capable of stsnding on it's own, without in-game purchases.

    Maybe that makes me out of toych and old-fashioned but, well, it's kinda like buying a book - I expect to get the whole book and not pay extra for more characters or plot elements. If the author then brings out another book using the same settings, characters, etc but a new or even sub-plot, fine. But I don't expect to pay per clue.
    Oh I think we agree, I'm just saying that your argument was only on half of the issue (to my mind).

    I agree that paying money to progress is frustrating, and enough to put me off a game. But I don't see that it is controversial from a legal standpoint.

    Loot boxes on the other hand, are not only paying money to progress, but also doing it in a way that completely obscures the true price of the product. I'm not paying £20 to accrue "XP Points" faster, I'm paying £20 on the basis that I might get XP Points faster, or I might get a pink outfit for my character that I didn't want. If there is a 10% chance of getting those XP Points, then the "true cost" of that upgrade is actually £200 but that's either masked behind a completely hidden algorithm or best-case scenario the company discloses the drop rates.

    Although it (probably) doesn't fall into the legal definition of gambling, it is extremely close to that. In fact, I would say it's pretty close to being a tombola / raffle type situation. And on top of that, these are products primarily marketed to children.

    It is almost certain that a typical child cannot understand the true cost of a product with a 5% probability of being in a £3 loot crate, and yet they are currently being marketed quite aggressively to them. That cannot be right.

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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    But loot boxes are a whole new level of terrible. [...]

    However, they also allow you to buy crates at £2-3 each. In those crates, you can get special ships that are no longer available in the store, but the drop rate is not known. So you could buy 20 crates, and not get a single ship that you want. A chap in the US said on one of the forums recently that he spent $800 on crates to unlock all of the ships that were available in them. Ergo, you could potentially spend >$500 without actually getting the original item that you were looking for.

    To me there is very little difference between this and gambling. If stores want to sell in-game content, then I don't see how we can stop them (other than refusing to participate), but I genuinely think that loot boxes and the like are skirting around legislation.
    I consider this issue epidemic in Japan.. though I am not sure if they average public see it that way. There is an article in Japanese (http://www.gamecast-blog.com/archives/65907363.html) you can Google Translate if you feel like it, but it shows Japanese spending waaay more in in-game purchase than any other country (16.6 times more than the next biggest spender, the Canadians).

    In Japan, I think that they have to show the drop rate if it is something the crate/chest/gatcha as they call it here can only be obtained using currency that has to be bought (or perhaps it is just expected), but it still doesn't make it awful / diminish the gambling aspect. I am going to randomly take a game I am playing casually. If you want a very, very specific "character card" right now, the odds could be as low as 0.01357%. Now at time they have special promotions where you can "lock on" to that "card" which raises the odds to an amazing 0.38%. How much does it draw those cards? Well, it is done by lots of 10s, usually at 3000 yen (£21) each time, though the first time is a mere 2000 yen (£14). So under the best situation, you are looking at an average of 78000 yen (£547) for that card. Obviously you will be getting a whole bunch of others, but those others are likely of lower value. And it gets worse. You can stack those cards to further strengthen the cards, so if you want to be really powerful, you definitely want at least 2, if not about 4 (before the diminishing return really kicks in) of those cards.

    And wait, this is just the surface. Many games have those monthly or twice-monthly events where the purpose is for the player to spend tons of continues (stamina or whatever it is that allows you to play beyond the natural "recharge rate". P2W events in the purest sense. It is often possible to estimate how much the top rankers spend through calculations, and I think some do spend at least 5 grand if not twice that to reach the top per month.

    Truth to be said, I do believe that people (especially adults) should be able to spend their money however they want. But I am kinda saddened that this is so lucrative that all you see are "freemium" games (Cute female character (voiced by popular voice actress) + basic gameplay = profit) in Japan. I expected more from the land that brought us so many awesome console games since the 80s. I will also add that I find it ironic that the land that bans gambling for money (other than the national lottery) is fine with gambling for virtual items.

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    Re: EA to cease sales of FIFA Points in Belgium

    There are several deep-lying issues here.

    1. Paywalls. Detested they may be, but in a capitalist free market economy, so long as the buyer is clearly told what they are getting for their money, you can't stop it.

    2. Loot boxes where you have no idea what you are getting for your money. Totally abhorrent and must be stopped. This is gambling on chance, clear and simple. Its worse than a lottery because in most countries lotteries are at least state regulated. The probabilities are known or at least governed by a set of rules. With this kind of pay and see what you can get, the creators/game devs can cheat by varying the chances of winning as they please in an unregulated, arbitrary and high handed manner. They can offer great returns early on to spread the hype and then con late comers after that. They also obviously prey on the final point.

    3. Gaming/Smartphone/Computer addiction. This is the deepest underlying problem which the aforementioned 2 points ultimately feed on. Not enough is being done still.

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