Belgium says loot crates are gambling


#32

Yeah, Bob Iger is probably tearing up the contracts as we speak.


#33

Being a cynic, I think this is not a step for increased public well being, it is simply the inroads to taxation. The government always wants their cut.


#34

IMO the inconsistent rarity output is a huge factor. (MtG no longer has consistent rarity distributions, either)

If you always get the same rarities and any cards in those rarities have equal distribution, you can reasonably claim that the company gave out the same value every time - aftermarket value is subjective, volatile and not in the company’s control. Therefore it’s not gambling. When that’s not the case, you’re getting an objectively different value from identical input with no control over that result - pretty much what gambling means, isn’t it? I’m somewhat surprised physical TCGs haven’t been targeted so loudly, since they don’t get to use the “it’s in the magical zero value world of the digital space” argument.


#35

It hasn’t? Well, they’re going to be next to paddle down shit creek then. In my mind the difference between physical cards and digital ones simply isn’t an issue anymore in this day and age. I mean bitcoin’s market cap sits at 136 billion dollar. That ship has sailed and sunk on the same reef that sank the gold standard.


#36

They’re not consistent with their boosters anymore? So you mean if I buy a pack I am not guaranteed a handful of commons, a few uncommons and one rare sort of thing?


#37

If you buy a Magic pack, you’re buying “eleven commons, three uncommons, and a rare or mythic rare, with a chance of getting a foil card at any rarity in place of a common, and (in some sets) a very small chance of getting a promo card in place of a common.” The guaranteed baseline hasn’t changed from “eleven commons, three uncommons, and a rare,” but you have a higher chance these days of getting something slightly above that baseline. It’s nothing like the random distribution of rarities seen in many digital CCGs.

As far as the “is this gambling?” thing, if you buy a Magic pack, you’re specifically paying for “fifteen Magic cards, with a predetermined baseline and distribution of card rarity, and a slight chance at something slightly above that baseline.” Any cash value attributed to individual cards comes from players and the secondary market, not from WotC saying “this card is worth $10, this other card is worth 50 cents.” Card rarities also have an actual gameplay reason to exist - Limited formats rely on some cards (which aren’t necessarily “money cards” at all) being printed at rare or mythic rare so that they don’t show up every time, for variety and often for power level reasons (many rares and mythic rares aren’t powerful enough for Constructed, but are devastating in a booster draft or sealed deck). Cards at common are also often valued by players because of the Pauper format, which only allows cards that were printed at common at some point in the game’s history. Then you have cubes (custom draft formats; a very popular variety to make is a “peasant cube,” with no cards above uncommon), Commander (where just about everything sees play), and a good number of other ways people find value for the “junk cards,” no dusting required.

Oh, and of course there’s the bit where physical card games don’t have a direct link to your bank account the way digital games do…


#38

This is not gambling then. I wouldn’t compare that to the digital stuff. They’ve been consistent for decades on their what you’re buying with some additions for foils and the like. You’re getting an x number of cards, every time and types of cards too. The digital front is a lot more wild west, and right now they can alter what you get even after you got it or make it completely useless. MtG if they change the rules or even ban the card it doesn’t just become worthless.

I am not opposed to all loot boxes nor are all loot boxes the same, but it’s become so wild west now and out of control in addition to sucking in children into pulling the handle one more time which we don’t allow outside the cards, tsum, LoL balls… basically a ton of physical things they always get something for.


#39

To me, gambling is pretty simply the ability to lay down an open-ended amount of money for a randomized return on that money. If one of the random possibilities is zero return that’s certainly more predatory and abusive, but guaranteeing that you get something doesn’t change that it’s gambling, IMO. It just means it’s a bit less shitty. I mean, actually, even the open-ended part isn’t necessary for it to be gambling. But if you cap the amount someone can spend on it that has much less possibility to fuck their shit up.


#40

They don’t control the secondary market. You’re buying 15 cards, as @WarpRattler said, and that’s it. It’s no different than buying 15 stickers, or 15 baseball cards, or 15 unmarked Tsum Tsum toys.


#41

And if the stickers, or baseball cards, or toys are being distributed randomly, then those are also gambling.


#42

Plus, as I pointed out in one of the other threads on the loot topic, once physical cards are packed into a booster, it’s pretty much up to luck to determine what you get. When you buy a physical blind box, the contents of that package were set long before you paid for it. With digital loot boxes, you are at the mercy of the game’s code right up until you see the actual prizes. You may be getting completely different odds than the guy in Albuquerque.


#43

None of it is literally gambling, but the random rewards are similarly dangerously addictive, fostering compulsion in a brain-hacking skinner box operant conditioning sort of way. That’s bad.

Personally, I don’t really give a shit about that. I care about P2W.


#44

Except, you know, current laws pretty much everywhere disagree with you for a number of reasons.


#45

There’s also the issue that if you don’t want/need the cards you get in a physical product you’re able to trade them with other players, where as in Hearthstone/Overwatch/Battlefront you can get some crafting materials at a rate way lower than what the card is “worth” if you were to craft it with the same materials. Loot boxes that allow you to trade your rewards (Valve, most of Guild Wars) are way less scummy imo.


#46

I’m not sure that I believe magic isn’t gambling just because they disclose some of the numbers. You are still putting money into a blind situation and hoping for an outcome that you like. I think that is gambling is principle no matter how you slice it.

That said I do agree that disclosure to inform consumers as to what they are getting in terms of odds is a lot better in Magic than lootboxes theses days. It’s still a game of chance hoping that your money produces the outcome you desire (you get the card you want) but at least the odds are a bit more transparent. I think the Foils and Untra-Rares step on this a bit, unless the exact odds are disclosed of what the sort for those cards are.

I still think you should have to be over 18 to engage in these “chance buys”, but that’s ultimately a decision for society at large. I do maintain that any time you are spending money. and specifically having the the outcome withheld, you are gambling, regardless of if the odds are disclosed or not.


#47

Do you consider baseball card gambling? What about Tsum Tsums. If something is in a box and you don’t know what you’re getting but your obviously getting something because it’s in your hand and no one is going to take it away from you or alter it… like is the only thing in your mind that makes it gambling is you don’t know what you’re going to get?

Now with lottery tickets, which I don’t play, you often get nothing, a whole lot of zero. And I thought most of the digi fronts, it’s zero too… you can’t sell it.


#48

Yes, I do consider baseball cards gambling. Not sure what Tsum Tsum is, but probably.

I think the fact that you are definitely going to get something makes it a softer form of gambling than the lottery or a casino, but I definitely think these things are on the gambling spectrum.

Now I do think this kind of gambling can be fun, but it also can be addictive and dangerous and I think that these potential harms should be taken into account when we discuss access to these things for children.


#49

I’ve got concerns using that as a definition. If we went with that definition, you couldn’t even buy a surprise candy bar flavor. I’m fine with people buying some unknown chocolate bar, and by people I mean children too. I’ve never seen an addicted gambler stand in a 7 elven and buy 100 candy bars for the thrill of it and to get that one. They might do it two or three times though and wind up with candy they can then give away or sell to someone.


#50

I don’t know that I would ever consider collectible card games to be gambling of any form, nor collectible cards, period. As for the gaming loot boxes, those are really akin to nearly every fair game I’ve played, like, ever. And kids are allowed to play those, they aren’t illegal, they don’t have notifications upon entering the fairs, and nobody makes a huge fuss over them.

I’m not in favor of them in gaming for the purpose of P2W or pay for advantage, but that doesn’t mean I think they are illegal, nor the practice of a shitty parent company using them being illegal either. Hell we could all probably name several kids games that require purchases for things in game. And kids games in the past that were physical that did the same. Nobody lost their mind, then.

I think Belgium and Hawaii are overstepping the bounds of illegality with what they are just not liking as a form of game play.


#51

To be clear, all “Belgium” has done is have the head of a body with no inherent power say that he thinks lootcrates are gambling, within the existing legal framework. To actually do anything about it, after making a formal finding, it would have to report the alleged criminality to the police.