Tag Archives: Mobile Games

It Doesn’t Matter If Loot Chests Are Gambling

Are loot chests gambling?

This is the question that’s been ricocheting around the Internet for months now, ever since EA announced (and then aborted) a rather pernicious microtransaction model for Star Wars Battlefront II.  Gaming sites, comments sections, podcasts, and forums abound with think pieces and hot takes on the subject.  Legislators have even jumped into the fray, with bills regulating randomized rewards being introduced in Hawaii and the Dutch gambling authority taking aim at the practice.

For as long as there have been microtransactions in games, there have been controversies about said transactions.  But recent events – such as loot chests in the single-player Shadow of War and the aforementioned EA debacle – along with the general growth of the practice have brought the issue to the fore.  In addition to predictable comments about canceled preorders and lamentations for The Way Games Used To Be, the conversation has centered on the question of whether or not loot chests constitute gambling.  Everyone seems to agree that this is the key issue; the only debate is whether we should call them chests, crates, or boxes.

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But debating whether or not loot chests are gambling misses the point.  Ultimately, answering the question will tell us far more about gambling laws than it will about loot chests. Continue reading It Doesn’t Matter If Loot Chests Are Gambling

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An NES console.

Nintendo’s Going Mobile

Nintendo recently released two news babies into the wild with nothing but the barest scraps of information to protect them from the Internet: the company, in partnership with DeNA, will be making mobile games; and, Nintendo is working on a new “dedicated game platform,” codenamed “NX.”  With almost no details to report or discuss, all we can really do is engage in the twin 21st century pastimes of Waiting in Agony to Know Everything Right Now, Dammit, and Wildly Speculating.  So, let’s speculate!

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Nintendo goes boldly into the future.

The two announcements came at a press conference on March 17, the primary audience of which was stockholders.  This is worth remembering when trying to draw inferences from Nintendo’s announcements.  Nintendo’s stock price has been stagnant for years, and this press conference knocked it up to as high as it’s been since 2011.

Let’s consider the mobile announcement first.  Nintendo has been understandably reluctant to jump into the mobile gaming fray.  They’ve enjoyed a more-or-less uninterrupted reign atop the handheld gaming market since they released the Gameboy in 1989.  The last thing they want to do is cannibalize their own market, trading sales of $200 handhelds and $40 games for some $0.99 apps.  They’ve also been adamant over the years that their games should be considered “premium,” and thus worth the $40 price tag, on top of the upfront console investment.  They don’t want to cheapen their brands by releasing a bunch of Nintendo-skinned match three games; if they did, people wouldn’t be able to see the value in such premium games as Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition.

But for all their reluctance, Nintendo doesn’t really have a choice.  They’ve been able to ward off all would-be usurpers of their handheld gaming throne for decades, but smartphones are an entirely different animal.  Nintendo’s best-selling handheld, the DS, sold just north of 150 million units.  Their current model, the 3DS, has sold around 50 million units.  (For comparison’s sake, the PlayStation Vita, released the same year as the 3DS, has sold about 4 million units, making it slightly more successful than something called the Bandai WonderSwan, which is powered by a single AA battery.)  Meanwhile, by the end of 2016, there will be over two billion people in the world people with smartphones.  Continue reading Nintendo’s Going Mobile