Loot Boxes have become a mostly hated part of the gaming industry today. While they usually get a pass on Free-2-Play games, almost all gamers hate seeing this in full priced games. Recently, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) fined three Korean Developers for their Loot Box Practices. The heaviest hit is Nexon, who is best known for Counter Strike Online 2 and Sudden Attack. They recieved a $882,700 penalty and $5,200 fine. Netmarble received a $42,300 penalty and $14,100 due to the loot boxes in their Star Wars: Force Arena and Marvel: Future Fight. Lastly, Next Floor received a $4,700 fine thanks to Destiny Child.
What did they do?
Nexon was fined due to misleading customers with loot boxes during events. Nexon held an event where loot boxes could be purchased for roughly $0.85 to get items for an event. The problem was that the odds of gathering all 16 required pieces were as low as 0.5%. Naturally, this preyed on some player’s tendencies to spend before thinking. Aimed for those players who think “Maybe the next one will have it.” One customer reportedly spent $430 without the odds ever being revealed. Hmm, all that money spent and the odds were that heavily stacked against him. Doesn’t that strike you as unethical in the least? South Korea thought so, fining them for deceptive practices (Not disclosing the odds or revealing odds outside of reason).
Nexon Says “We Won’t Stop.”
After the penalty and fine, Nexon released this statement:
“In our puzzle event, we used the phrase ‘random provision’ to suggest the items would be provided at random, and that the odds of obtaining each puzzle piece were different. However, the FTC interpreted the phrase as suggesting equal odds. We plan to work on obtaining an additional review of this issue in the future.”
So, how does “Random Provision” determine if the odds for each item are random or if they are all equally random? Because they don’t want to disclose the odds. Why else would countries like China pass a law requiring odds be disclosed to customers? Overwatch in China tried to skirt past this law by selling a premium currency to buy loot boxes. Thus, customers are buying the currency, not loot boxes. All because they don’t want to disclose the odds.
The War against Loot Boxes Continues
Ever sense the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 (EA), Loot Box use has received negative reactions from customers across the board. Customers have had enough with predatory ways some Publishers/Developers are using to increase their profit margins. Anger over Loot Boxes reached a point where State and Federal Government began to look into regulating the gaming industry to protect consumers. The outcry became strong enough that Bioware began to fear for their upcoming title, Anthem, rotting on store shelves because of this. Monolith Productions have already begun steps to remove Shadow of War’s premium currency and War Chests (Premium Loot Boxes) from their games. This will leave only loot boxes purchasable through in-game currency.
It would seem that 2017-2018, the Gaming Industry received a reality check from their customers. Predatory practices are bad for business.