star-trek-online-infinity-lock-box

This could be a big one. According to translators on NeoGAF, there’s a new law in effect in China that requires online game companies with randomized lockboxes to make known the odds of getting the items in those lockboxes. According to the translation:




2.6 …Online game publishers shall promptly publicly announce information about the name, property, content, quantity, and draw/forge probability of all virtual items and services that can be drawn/forge on the official website or a dedicated draw probability webpage of the game. The information on draw probability shall be true and effective.

2.7 Online game publishers shall publicly announce the random draw results by customers on notable places of official website or in game, and keep record for government inquiry. The record must be kept for more than 90 days. When publishing the random draw results, some measures should be taken place to protect user privacy.

Now, it’s possible that this is, in part, a mistranslation or misinterpretation — you can take a crack at the original Chinese yourself — but if it is what it seems to be, this could be huge. It’s legislation I’ve wondered about before, suggesting that paid lockboxes should be subject to the same kind of odds disclosure you get with trading-card packs or in a casino. I suppose I just expected it to be more likely to come up first in the U.S., Europe, or Korea.

“But it’s just crappy free-to-play Chinese games that will do this, that doesn’t affect me!” Depending on the exact wording of the law, not quite. If this affects any game that operates in China — which includes many games by Western developers — then they’ll need to disclose their odds. And if they use the same loot tables in the West, we’ll know what they are. Even if they don’t, players will think they’re the same, and that could lead game companies to be a little more open about their odds.

Now, how will this affect other forms of in-game loot? Again, the translation isn’t totally clear, and I don’t think we want or need odds of every in-game loot bag to be disclosed. But what about things like Hearthstone packs, which you can buy for real money or in-game gold, or sometimes earn for free? And many games don’t have you buy things directly; instead, you pay cash to get a currency, like “diamonds” or “GameBucks” and you spend that on lockboxes. Does that count? What if you can occasionally earn those currencies through gameplay? Does that circumvent the law? You’d better believe game companies will exploit every possible loophole to maintain their advantage.

Of course, all of this could blow up like that spending limit law in South Korea from a couple of years ago and be quickly repealed if it crashes the games industry. But I’m certainly interested to see how it all plays out.

the author

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

10 Readers Commented

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  1. death to the system on December 12, 2016

    i hope affect the entire world these companies suck they only think about the money theres no f2p games all games are pay in some way,I think the term free2play is a hyperbole because as some people say it is busisness and its true…creators use common sense to deceive people and deceive them by saying that they do an honest job, since their real intentions are totally opposite, in the end it becomes a trap and in the end who goes to the bottom of the hole are us we are the fault It is ours to have this consumerist spirit and it is because of this that these companies continue to do what they do with us because of what we pay them, a very large percentage of people would have to stop using real money in the games to make a company Fall, this is far from happening because there are virgin rich kids out there who think with money, this is obivous the problem is its the people who choose no to believe,that’s why I say that the world is already doomed.

  2. Chemo Time on December 10, 2016

    F2P games that use RNG lockboxes, booster packs, etc. are gambling in all but name and should be subjected to the same strict regulations as online casinos (including prohibiting minors). If it causes most F2P companies to go under, then so be it. It would make room for more honest upstarts.

    I see witless fanboys everywhere regurgitate the platitude, “Companies exist to make money.” As if that somehow justifies shady and exploitative business practices. If that weak excuse was the only justification a company needs for everything, ponzi schemes, fraud, and extortion wouldn’t be illegal. Companies must give appropriate value for that money in return. They are not entitled to our money just for existing. [Insert joke about Bernie Sanders here.]

    These companies do exist to make money alright. The vast majority of F2P games exist purely to fleece people of their money. Little to no quality or value whatsoever. None needed when all you need is a thinly-veiled Skinner Box to hook people that are easily addicted and cash shop to bleed them dry.

  3. rickshaw on December 9, 2016

    One game that needs the law on them is Stronghold KIngdoms
    They rourt the crap out of you on their pay for cards random low shit all the time,
    Absolutely Stronghold kingdoms is the most disgusting & terrible, uncouth, support of ignorance i’ve ever encountered in a game. They just ban you! & take all your money with no way of getting to speak to them ever again even though its their mistake! Its disgusting and they should be banned from gaming practices totally.

  4. Singularity on December 9, 2016

    And who checks if that code / chance are actually on the live servers?

    It´s one of those laws every half-wit can get around. And publishers are quite creative in that regard, i mean there´s nothing to prevent them from having a function that will change the chance after the initialized “coded” ones.

    • Curst on December 9, 2016

      There’s a whole lot you don’t know about China it would seem. Their methods might not work in the US, but you better believe that on their own turf they have all the necessary will, resources and know-how to enforce any internet-related law, no matter how odd or far-fetched it may sound to the outsiders.

  5. kek on December 8, 2016

    Finally, holy crap! This will be a HUGE eye opener for gamers, please!

  6. Merkadis on December 8, 2016

    The entire gaming community hopes that it will affect THE ENTIRE WORLD.
    Because enough is enough, people are tired from scammy companies with their scam boxes.
    Been tired for a while now, actually.
    I’m surprised it took this long, and i hope it’s only the first stem in bringing dem scammy companies back on track.

    • Merkadis on December 8, 2016

      step*

    • Curst on December 9, 2016

      I also wish that people everywhere would follow the example set in South Korea and make creation & distribution of cheats / hacks for online games illegal. Even though the effect of cheats is limited to the virtual world, they do some very real damage to both game companies and honest players.

      • DEmodeboom on December 9, 2016

        The issue is a good portion of these providers are out of country and most people can not take legal action against them.. However most of the time its too expensive to even attempt to go after them that most companies don’t even bother. That is why Korean games are mostly closed to only their nation and everyone else is blocked and not able to join.

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