Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act

Ars Technica has details on the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, a bill being put forth by U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to regulate loot boxes, microtransactions, and other ways to monetize games targeted at children. They note that this still has a long way to go before being signed into law (here's a refresher on that aspect of this) and also have a reaction from the ESA, who unsurprisingly, are not enthusiastic. The Senator's office has distributed this one-pager to outline how this proposes to regulate games targeting minors or that knowingly allow minors to engage in microtransactions:
In such games, this bill would prohibit several forms of manipulative design:

Loot Boxes

  • Microtransactions offering randomized or partially randomized rewards to players

Pay-to-Win

  • Manipulation of a game’s progression system – typically by building artificial difficulty or other barriers into game progression – to induce players to spend money on microtransactions to advance through content supposedly available to them at no additional cost
  • Pay-to-win - Manipulation of the competitive balance between players of multiplayer games by allowing players who purchase microtransactions competitive advantages over other players

Enforcement

  • These rules would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, which would treat the distribution of such games by publishers and online distributors as an unfair trade practice.
  • State attorneys general would also be empowered to file suit to defend the residents of their states.

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1.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 18:43
Kxmode
 
1.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 18:43
May 8, 2019, 18:43
 Kxmode
 
It shouldn't be just for children but for everyone. It's a known fact, big publishers, like EA, employ psychologist known for manipulating behavior to maximize profits. It's base-level predatory nonsense.
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2.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 19:05
2.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 19:05
May 8, 2019, 19:05
 
All very good and not too unexpected, but the first thing that went through my head as I read this was, "Oh god, Jim Sterling is going to be unbearably smug about this"

(and deservedly so, but still...)

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3.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 19:06
3.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 19:06
May 8, 2019, 19:06
 
I'd like to see them try the same for sports cards.

It's essentially a physical loot box. You're not guaranteed a high value card in a pack even though they exist. You're not guaranteed your favourite player even though they have a card and might even be featured on the packaging.

How is it different?

You pay money. You have a random chance of getting what you actually want.

Ironic that politicians who are routinely measured by their ability to raise campaign donations as indication of their chance to win are decrying Pay to Win....
4.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 19:54
4.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 19:54
May 8, 2019, 19:54
 
Even though I think loot boxes are a scam, I'm not sure it rises to the level of being in need of regulation. Although I guess an argument could be made that it is gambling and other gambling is regulated, so.. maybe. As far as pay-2-win, again yeah it is shitty -- but I'd hope our legislatures could find more important business to deal with... *sigh*
“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” -- Carl Sagan
5.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:03
5.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:03
May 8, 2019, 20:03
 
I would've thought all the liberals that post here would relish the govt. stepping in once more and telling them how to protect their kids and what to do in lieu of common sense. That is your thing right?
6.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:16
6.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:16
May 8, 2019, 20:16
 
panbient wrote on May 8, 2019, 19:06:
I'd like to see them try the same for sports cards.

It's essentially a physical loot box. You're not guaranteed a high value card in a pack even though they exist. You're not guaranteed your favourite player even though they have a card and might even be featured on the packaging.

How is it different?

You pay money. You have a random chance of getting what you actually want.

Ironic that politicians who are routinely measured by their ability to raise campaign donations as indication of their chance to win are decrying Pay to Win....
I agree sports card have a similar mechanic. Difference is that they aren't a $134B industry, so have flown under the radar.
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7.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:21
NKD
7.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:21
May 8, 2019, 20:21
NKD
 
In theory I support this kind of regulation. Consumers and parents are at a distinct disadvantage against corporations with unlimited funds doing what is essentially an exploit of a bug in human psychology. All to make a profit.

The "free market" isn't free when the power differential is so enormous, and corporations can simply buy astroturfing campaigns to ensure consumers are arguing with each other instead of rallying against them.
Do you have a single fact to back that up?
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8.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:23
8.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:23
May 8, 2019, 20:23
 
Introduced by a Republican? Wha...?

* Googles rep *

Ah, young naive guy still full of optimism and logic. His elders will soon disabuse him of these notions, and explain how such laws restrict corporate "freedom" and profits. This bill will soon be withdrawn.
If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends. Slava Ukraini!
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9.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:25
9.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:25
May 8, 2019, 20:25
 
LOL @ video. Laugh2
If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends. Slava Ukraini!
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10.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:29
10.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:29
May 8, 2019, 20:29
 
Angrius Maximis wrote on May 8, 2019, 20:03:
I would've thought all the liberals that post here would relish the govt. stepping in once more and telling them how to protect their kids and what to do in lieu of common sense. That is your thing right?

So what you're saying is cons never think of the children, much less care about them. Okay, got it. That's pretty much what everyone already knew anyway.
"Van Gogh painted alone and in despair and in madness and sold one picture in his entire life. Millions struggled alone, unrecognized, and struggled as heroically as any famous hero. Was it worthless? I knew it wasn't."
11.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:35
11.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:35
May 8, 2019, 20:35
 
Thank god someone is finally making sure these damn loot boxes can’t kill any more innocent children.
12.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:36
12.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:36
May 8, 2019, 20:36
 

I am relishing the thought that a conservative member of parliament has been forced into action to protect something other than an unborn fetus.
Normally once they're born a gop'er wants nothing to do with little people.

This sounds too good to be true, hope I'm wrong.

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13.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 20:45
13.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 20:45
May 8, 2019, 20:45
 
Angrius Maximis wrote on May 8, 2019, 20:03:
I would've thought all the liberals that post here would relish the govt. stepping in once more and telling them how to protect their kids and what to do in lieu of common sense. That is your thing right?

I don't know what anyone else's "thing" is, but my "thing" is shoving my booted foot way up the ass of morons who paint in broad brushes while using straw man arguments and thinly veiled pejoratives. It is my hope, although sometimes in vain, that in doing so, I will cure those types of people of recto-cranial inversion syndrome.
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14.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 21:28
Dev
14.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 21:28
May 8, 2019, 21:28
Dev
 
jdreyer wrote on May 8, 2019, 20:16:
I agree sports card have a similar mechanic. Difference is that they aren't a $134B industry, so have flown under the radar.
No, but start throwing in all the collectibles, like magic cards, pokeman cards, and other CCGs, and all those things at gamestop where you buy a figurine and you get a random one inside, etc etc, and it starts adding up.
15.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 21:32
15.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 21:32
May 8, 2019, 21:32
 
jdreyer wrote on May 8, 2019, 20:25:
LOL @ video. Laugh2
Don't laugh too hard, probably the best education on legislation that most US citizens of that generation ever got.

Schoolhouse Rock, ROCKS!
“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” -- Carl Sagan
16.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 21:47
16.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 21:47
May 8, 2019, 21:47
 
Oh the gaming industry gon' be so MAD at EA...
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17.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 8, 2019, 22:28
17.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 8, 2019, 22:28
May 8, 2019, 22:28
 
The biggest problem is there are SO many untrustworthy hacks working in Congress and Senate. They will try to add riders to restrict all games beyond gambling and/or make it so undesirable to never reach a majority for passage. Not to mention they actually found a bigger idiot to run the country, than dick and bush. Flamethrower
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Marcus: ... Bullies. Tiny d*ck egotists who hurt people for no reason, make people lock their doors at night. People who make general existence worse, people like you.
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18.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 9, 2019, 01:19
18.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 9, 2019, 01:19
May 9, 2019, 01:19
 
NKD wrote on May 8, 2019, 20:21:
In theory I support this kind of regulation. Consumers and parents are at a distinct disadvantage against corporations with unlimited funds doing what is essentially an exploit of a bug in human psychology. All to make a profit.

The problem is your government hasn't ever worked for you.. most citizens are under too much state school and corporate propaganda to know what their political interests are.

If you vote for any of the demopublicans you have no idea how politics works as a member of the working population. Your interests are not aligned.
19.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 9, 2019, 01:50
19.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 9, 2019, 01:50
May 9, 2019, 01:50
 
The consequences of something like this being on the books would be worse than the sin of gacha games.
20.
 
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act
May 9, 2019, 04:30
20.
Re: Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act May 9, 2019, 04:30
May 9, 2019, 04:30
 
Dev wrote on May 8, 2019, 21:28:
jdreyer wrote on May 8, 2019, 20:16:
I agree sports card have a similar mechanic. Difference is that they aren't a $134B industry, so have flown under the radar.
No, but start throwing in all the collectibles, like magic cards, pokeman cards, and other CCGs, and all those things at gamestop where you buy a figurine and you get a random one inside, etc etc, and it starts adding up.

Yeah this is a very difficult thing to regulate, and regulation might make it worse, as where there are loopholes, the execs will have the cover of being 'legal' whilst using some of the nastiest manipulative technology imaginable to extract money out of people.

But anything has to be better than the anything goes approach we have now. Pubs had their chance and plenty of time to regulate themselves as with the ESRB and agree on a best practices framework, but the money in using gambling technology/psychology on kids and everyone else was too lucrative. Consumer behavior has helped in places (BF1 and BFV were negligibly aggressive on MT after the Battlefront games took all the heat for their bullshit for instance) but it's obviously not enough.

MT me all day. I've got you paradox! (for at least some of it) and Payday 2 (Now and then, when it's good and on special) But the second you fuck with good, fun, progression design to incentivise it than go to prison forever you dumb greedy fuckface and if we need authoritarian Republicon laws to do it than so be it.

Yes, this makes me a hypocrite and there are a million other issues more important but if this is what it takes, I'm all for it.

It's probably not worth another 4 years of Trump, which is definitely happening due to useless corporate Dem stooges, but it will be some comfort.
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