I just love when we have those who are supposed to at least tangentially represent the protection of consumers coming right out and admitting that they are full of shit. It’s kind of cathartic. Like when you are completely vindicated on a food that you thought you wouldn’t like because it smells bad, and then tastes worse. Your friend was so insistent that it is much better than it smells, but then you get the confirmation of how right you are, and it is a fulfilling little moment. That’s what we have here. Only difference is, it’s ESA President Mike Gallagher trying to get us to eat bullshit and like it.
In an article for Games Industry, he lays out why regulation of predatory loot boxes is bad, and how gamers are overreacting about the predatory nature of this stuff. It’s capital bullshit, and I felt like responding to it. Here’s a link to the article, now let’s get started.
This is something that our industry is really, really good at,” he said. “It’s one of the hallmarks of our success: how we engage consumers, and build a business model around our products that is dynamic, exciting and, at the end of the day, profitable. But it’s done in a way where the gamers are pleased with how we interact with them.
Yeah, let’s ask EA how that’s going. Like when the Battlefront 2 mess exploded in their face, and how they tried desperately to play it off on Reddit, only for the whole mess to blow up even more in their faces.
I just love the bullshit corporate speak here. The way that this guy is just sucking off the corporate industry as hard as he possibly can. No surprise, since the ESA has been lobbied HARD after US politicians tried to go after lootboxes on legislation. No doubt the corporate tools of EA and other publishers were on the phone with them that afternoon telling them they need as much cock-sucking as possible for their predatory practices. Every time I heard language like this, my senses immediately go off that every word out of this person’s mouth is bullshit. Language like this is used by somebody who has nothing true to say. Not once in the history of anything I’ve ever read with substantive points has been done in corporate speak. Trust me, you are going to see more.
But today, one particular business model, loot boxes, has come under intense scrutiny, and it has come under that scrutiny because of these forces I’ve shared with you: intense cultural engagement, relevance, the economic connection; all of these forces, when you align them together, lead to the interest of government.
No, it didn’t. What happened was that the predatory nature of microtransactions has been under scrutiny by gamers for years. We’ve NEVER liked it. Ever. But when EA decided to lock all the content of a new game in a big IP behind lootboxes, and made their big game pretty much pay-to-win, then people decided they had had enough. It was genuinely encouraging to see gamers come together to unite against this kind of predatory bullshit.
Activision didn’t make it better when they were trying to patent an algorithm that would make the buying of lootboxes even more enticing. It’s become all too clear that predatory lootboxes are what the games industry sees as the future, along with “games as a service.” The latter can only be fought by gamers speaking with their wallets that we don’t want games that are just Destiny or The Division clones. The former, however, is gambling. And when players decided that we had enough, and you had corporations like Disney desperate to not have their corporate image or brand name associated with this bullshit, that’s when government took notice.
Today, though, several governments around the world are seeking to classify loot boxes as gambling, taking power away from the industry. This, Gallagher said, “challenges our industry’s freedom to innovate, and impairs our ability to continuously test new business models, which drive creativity and engagement with our audience.”
Yeah, clearly that’s bullshit too. The audiences said “NO!” to lootboxes. They said that we don’t want them, and we are tired of game companies nickel-and-diming gamers to death with this shit. See what I mean about corporate speak only ever being bullshit? This man is trying to weave this fanciful narrative of companies like EA being so restricted when governments in the EU decide to rightly call these lootbox practices what they are – gambling. Wants us to believe that the poor companies are all about fixing things and responding to what the gamers want. Oh really? Then after gamers came out loud and proud saying that we don’t want this, why is EA saying that they don’t give a fuck and are staying the course? Funny how that works, Mike, you fucking corporate tool.
One common aspect between each of the challenges Gallagher laid out was a lack of understanding or education to the opposition view. This is the case with the would-be regulators of loot boxes, he said, who don’t understand that similar mechanisms and tools have existed in games for “a long time” – upon saying this, Gallagher elongated the “o” in “long” for effect.
Yeah, Mike, it has, and gamers have hated it for that amount of time. The only difference in this case was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Companies like EA have been bilking the consumers for years, but this was the first time that consumers came together and voted with their wallets and their complaints got too loud to ignore. That and Disney stepped in. In all honestly, it’s probably just because of that that this issue reached the point it did, but hey, at least SOMEBODY took notice of gamers. Clearly EA doesn’t give a flying fuck what we have to say. Neither do you, it seems.
“Most importantly, these in-game transactions are not gambling,” Gallagher continued. “Video games never take money from a player and leave them with nothing. They never do. Players always receive an in-game feature that aids in customising their experience… When you look at the definitions of gambling throughout the world, and how this is done and how it’s regulated in places like Las Vegas and the US, it’s quite different to the mechanism with loot boxes in games.
There are two examples to show that you’re wrong on this, Mike. For starters, in Counterstrike GO, there are mechanisms to be able to trade in-game perks for real-world cash. Second, look at pachinko machines in Japan. Those don’t pay you real money either. What they do is pay out tickets that you redeem prizes with. The difference is that because gambling is illegal in Japan, they can’t give you actual money. Instead, you trade in prizes and get money. But the idea is that same. You pay real-world money for something you can use for the game, and then get something for your money, depending on the odds of play.
But Mike doesn’t get that. In his ethnocentric view of the world, he doesn’t see it as gambling like in Vegas. Because that’s the only kind of gambling, right? Fucking idiot. This man is so out of touch, all so he can try and play down what lootboxes are. It’s fucking bullshit and it pisses me off that this man is the head of an agency who is supposed to at least tangentially represent gaming consumers and instead just sucks corporate cock all day.
“IARC, and the parental tools in video game hardware, they represent our industry’s commitment to children, and to getting it right with policymakers,” Gallagher said. “We do this ourselves, we do it proactively and voluntarily, because we know it’s how we’re going to grow our market responsibly.”
Yeah, we’d like to believe that, Mike, but it’s pretty damn clear that you’re an absolute tool for the corporations whose predatory business models are taking advantage of gullible adults and gullible kids. After all, it isn’t M-rated games that are doing this. FIFA and Battlefront 2 weren’t. These are games either for teens or all consumers. And since grandma isn’t going to be paying attention to this sort of stuff, and you want to slide it all under the rug or try and put some meaningless label on the game box that the aforementioned grandma isn’t going to read, SOMEBODY has to actually be looking out for consumers.
The short answer is that we DO NOT trust you and yours to be in the best interest of the consumers. The rest of this interview was you pissing on governments in the EU, knowing full-well that if the EU cracks down on this shit, your company is going to have to alter your business model. Because those countries are too big a market to ignore. And the corporations that you are OBVIOUSLY a flying monkey for would have to take notice.
You are a tool, Mike. This entire interview served that up on a platter.
Until next time, a quote,
“My step-douche has a bunch of stuff in the garage, and he is a tiny tool.” – Chloe Price, Life is Strange