I was reading an article about the recent lootbox stuff in Europe (forget which article/site) and was amused by how many comments were cheering governments getting involved in regulating video games. Cheering on old, out-of-touch politicians who for sure aren’t looking into this for easy future votes, and instead have the best interests of gamers in mind and will finally, finally force companies like EA and Activision to make games you want, with you (collectively) giving them less money for the product. What could possibly go wrong here…
Let’s put aside for now what the future laws could be, and pretend they nail the wording of the laws and they accomplish exactly what these gamers expect; no more lootboxes without negative side effects. Fantasyland, but let’s pretend.
After the laws are passed, what do you think EA is going to do? Put the same amount of resources into making games, remove the revenue stream that dwarves the income from selling just the box, AND keep cost/quality the same? No, that’s not how things work.
Best bet is that EA and others will come up with a different way to sell lootbox content. Maybe it simply won’t be random, and you can buy common tier whatever for a certain price, and epic tier stuff for another. Is that an improvement you (collectively) want to see? If that doesn’t sell, maybe we start seeing more content gated behind DLC. Maybe the first level is free, and then each level after has a cost, one that adds up to more than the normal $60 price tag if you buy the whole experience. Is that better?
What is almost certain to happen is reduced funding for smaller projects. When companies have money, they can afford to be riskier, trying ideas in the hopes of having a new hit, knowing that failure won’t cripple them. When money is tight, you focus on your safer bets. That means more sequels, more early updates of an established franchise, and far, far fewer niche titles. Regardless of how you feel about the big IPs, how is fewer games a GOOD thing for gamers?
Finally, all the rage about lootboxes (to say nothing about the fake outrage based around ‘save the kids!’) is misguided anyway. You know why lootboxes exist? Because gamers like them. They like them so much, in fact, that they walletvote for them, and walletvotes count for a hell of a lot more than comments on an article/blog or a freaking tweet. Asking someone else, and especially the government, to step in and override the walletvotes of gamers is, point blank, idiotic.