Hawaii Government Introduces 4 Bills Regulating The Sale Of Games With Micro-transactions.

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by Meteor7, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. Meteor7
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    Meteor7 Guess where this thumb goes.

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    The Hawaiian government has introduced 2 house bills and 2 senate bills which aim to regulate the sale of video games containing microtransactions under the pretenses of them being manipulative and exploitative, resulting in harm to those with addictive predispositions, such as children. The first 2 bills, House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024, attempt to limit the sale of games with these mechanics to those under 21, stating that
    In the body of the bill, it compares the current micro-transaction structure to gambling, saying that they're "psychology to compel players to keep spending money in the same way that casino games are so designed." It goes on to then call them "predatory", and claim that they pose the same risks to consumers as gambling. It also mentions the somewhat controversial proposition of the American Psychological Association in classifying internet gaming disorder as a psychological condition to illustrate what they see as the dangers of this mechanism.

    The last 2 bills, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, then go on to propose that all those who utilize these mechanics in their games should be required to disclose the probability of acquiring each item a player could receive, as well as to include a prominently featured warning on/in the game which reads "Warning: contains in-game purchases and gambling-like mechanisms which may be harmful or addictive."

    This is an effort spearheaded by Hawaii state Rep. Chris Lee of Oahu after the massive backlash against the mechanic of lootboxes, primarily brought about by the large controversy of EA's Star Wars: Battlefront II's lootboxe and micro-transactions. Chris criticized the current attitude of the games industry, saying "I grew up playing games my whole life. I’ve watched firsthand the evolution of the industry from one that seeks to create new things to one that’s begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit." It's important to note that these bills still need to pass through both the House and Senate before they reach the governor for consideration, meaning the regulations detailed in these bills are, as of yet, not in effect.

    :arrow:House Bill 2686
    :arrow:House Bill 2727
    :arrow:Senate Bill 3024
    :arrow:Senate Bill 3025
    :arrow: Source
     
  2. Xzi

    Xzi Virtual Bartman

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    I like the intent, not necessarily the execution. Better to punish the publishers who shove this shit in games with financial penalties IMO. They only understand their wallets.
     
    Last edited by Xzi, Feb 14, 2018
  3. SG854

    SG854 GBAtemp Maniac

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    The first 2 bills isn't going to stop kids from playing these games just like how the M-Rated label doesn't stop kids from playing those games.
    Just like how the alcohol law doesn't stop teens from getting someone older to buy them alcohol.

    Kids don't work so how are they getting access to micro transactions? If they do get money from birthday parties or something, and loose that money on micro transactions then it won't be harmful to them in the same way its harmful to an adult that needs to support a family and needs to buy food. Kids are not responsible to support a family. If its their parents giving them money for micro transactions then its the parents fault.

    If its a teen that has a job then shouldn't they be old enough and responsible for their own addiction? If not then why not ban even 21 year olds because they are also at risk for addiction too.
     
    Last edited by SG854, Feb 14, 2018
  4. RyanAnayaMc

    RyanAnayaMc The ACE

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    Actually there is a much easier way of doing this. Just don't let little kids touch mom and dad's credit cards for microtransactions. If this is passed in California, then just about all the games I play are now illegal for me to play. No more Unison League, Fire Emblem Heroes, Overwatch, Killing Floor 2, CSGO, you name it. Because of how many companies did this, I feel that it is more so harming the consumer than the company. Sure, I have no problem with games saying that it has a lootbox system, but I think that restricting their sale isn't necessary. If people want to gamble their money like that, let them, and people should get the message when they get 3-stars, Rares, or any other low-tier item from these lootboxes. Sure, you can move up the rating of a game to E10+ or T if you're really concerned, but 21 is really drastic. I could be drafted before I get a chance to play Overwatch under such a law.
     
    Last edited by RyanAnayaMc, Feb 14, 2018
  5. RustInPeace

    RustInPeace Samurai Cop

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    It's a hard ticket to Hawaii now (I'd love the person forever if they get the reference without Googling).

    I like the fining idea against publishers, especially EA. These bills won't really do anything, just add more text and warnings to game cases that likely won't be followed. Just like how me as a 7 year old played an M rated game in MK Trilogy, a kid can get their hands on a game with a loot box system, and probably get access somehow to a parent's credit card. There should just be educating the consumer on this, and especially parents, to pass that knowledge to kids and not really ban them from playing, but teach them on what could happen. Good intentions especially compared to the whole violent video game controversy bullshit from the 90s, but it's potentially another example of government intervention not being a good solution at all.

    As EA plans their missile strike against Hawaii.
     
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  6. ihaveamac

    ihaveamac GBAtemp Guru

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    if the games are rated AO ("Adults Only") due to gambling-like mechanics, then a lot of stores won't sell the game in the first place, so it would probably be a lot harder to find. which would also probably force publishers to drop the whole scheme or (more likely) find a different way to squeeze extra money out of people.
     
  7. SG854

    SG854 GBAtemp Maniac

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    In this case putting an M rated label makes more sense then putting a micro transaction warning label, since the M rated label warns parents that don't like their kids to play this stuff. But how often do kids get money for micro transactions? But even if they were to get moneykids rarely get access to money, and if they do get money by doing small chores or doing yard work for people, they won't get a lot of money. So can they really become addicted with the small amount of money they get? Its like can you be addicted to alcohol if you only have money to buy one 6 pack every two months?

    Does preventing selling alcohol to kids stop them from selling it in grocery stores, 7-11's, or at restaurants? Does putting an M rated label on games stop stores like Best Buy or Game Stop from selling them?
     
    Last edited by SG854, Feb 14, 2018
  8. AbyssalMonkey

    AbyssalMonkey GBAtemp Regular

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    Yes, because we saw how effective this "disclose the odds" idea went over in China. They loopholed their way around it because they didn't want anybody seeing how fucking awful they actually are.

    Until this does something, like cause AO like someone said, it's going to do literally nothing. The companies will find loopholes, lobby their way through, or impede it in some fashion.

    I have my tinfoil hat on and am going to go out on a limb and say that these measures are frontfaced "we did something guys!" to try and calm the crowd while the storm keeps a-brewing. It would come as no surprise to find this entire debacle was orchestrated by the large game companies as a strawman, just so they can point to it and say "you've already handicapped us!" while putting forth token efforts against it, while secretly supporting it from behind.
     
  9. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    Don't include alcohol in the argument if you're not going to acknowledge that the illegality of selling minors alcohol greatly hinders their ability to buy it
     
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  10. SG854

    SG854 GBAtemp Maniac

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    Reread my response to them.
     
  11. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    I did, and it doesn't really matter as a kid can get a debit card with a bank account, and as long as they're at least 14 they would have their own source of income. Game reward systems like that are built to be addicting, and I can easily see how minors would fall into that trap without using a parent's card info
     
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  12. SG854

    SG854 GBAtemp Maniac

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    @TotalInsanity4 No you didn't. If you read what they said, they said the AO Gambling rating will stop them from selling it in the first place in general and they'll be harder to find. Why are M rated games still around?
     
  13. Hozu

    Hozu GBAtemp Regular

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    It's worth noting that the state of Hawaii is extremely strict on gambling in general - no state-run lottery, no casinos, hell, even any cruise ships that enter their waters have to literally put away all of their slot machines. So this shouldn't be a surprise, honestly. Especially when the industry failed to self-regulate in the name of corporate greed.

    The ESRB ratings aren't legally binding. Should this law pass, selling a game with microtransactions would be akin to selling alcohol and tobacco.
     
    Last edited by Hozu, Feb 14, 2018
  14. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    Because parents ignorantly buy them, not knowing what they contain, or the game store is breaking company policy and the person working the counter should be fired. Either way,
     
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  15. SG854

    SG854 GBAtemp Maniac

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    This is the case of miscommunication here. They said meaning stop selling them altogether even to adults. And micro transaction games will cease to exist or not be common.
     
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  16. ihaveamac

    ihaveamac GBAtemp Guru

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    the difference being many stores do sell alcohol and M-rated games, but many stores don't sell AO-rated games.

    if the game industry can't self-regulate, then regulators will step in and do its job. sucks, but if that's what it takes then so be it.
     
  17. SG854

    SG854 GBAtemp Maniac

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    Heres my question. Do you think government should step in and regulate video games altogether? And prevent people under 21 from buying video games and consoles? Games are designed to be addictive. Being addictive can impact a kids education which can affect their future and affect their health since they are getting less excercise. If video game companies can't regulate themselves should government step in?
     
    Last edited by SG854, Feb 14, 2018
  18. Hells Malice

    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    So just like how game retailers legally can't sell games rated for higher ages to anyone under that age, and definitely don't ever do that. Amirite guise?

    What a useless waste of time and money. Just some old guys with no clue what they're even discussing throwing out useless solutions that solve nothing, for a problem that really doesn't need solving. Warnings don't fucking do anything, no one reads them, especially not the problem group. Likewise showing the percentages does absolutely nothing. In fact, in most cases it just makes the gambling worse. Joe might've only bought 20 crates and got nothing, but he has a 5% chance of getting a legendary item, that means if he buys 20 more he's probably guaranteed to get it!! Gambler's fallacy, it's a bitch. I'm amazed most devs don't already abuse it by showing chances and making the numbers enticing.
     
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  19. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    There's a difference between something being addictive and something preying off of being addictive for the sake of enticing more money out of them. I'm all for the government stepping in when they need to (as they have the highest authority in regulating things like this, economically speaking), but I highly, HIGHLY doubt that it would ever come to the point of banning video games or consoles altogether
     
  20. ihaveamac

    ihaveamac GBAtemp Guru

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    if regulation by governments is the method required to force "triple-a" publishers to drop their shitty money-making schemes, then so be it. if the industry can get its shit together and self-regulate, that would also be nice. and it's not going to end up in a total ban on games and consoles.
     
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