Please don't let micro transactions or loot boxes ruin borderlands 3

(Is this thing on?) #41

Apparently, loot boxes are not popular with Belgian authorities:

It will be interesting to see how the major publishers respond to this. I don’t expect that this result in actual legislation. Then again, this is Belgium…

(Boomshanka08) #42

If Gearbox stays true to their original approach to loot boxes they will be fine. It is only when loot boxes are tied to additional money purchases that it becomes an issue.

(LootHunter_twitch) #43

The whole essence of Borderlands is killing stuff and getting those sweet loot drops. If Loot Box transactions were included, it would imo just ruin the game outright.

GBX has no reason to stray from the path that was laid out in B2. And moreover, the game already has a HUGE following and is possibly now one of the most anticipated games coming out (when ever). Should they choose any other option than the loot pack sales they already had in place for skins and heads, i think they’d be playing Russian Roulette with their customers, and that’s probably not a good thing for them to do.

The Borderlands community is very particular, very loyal and vocal. GBX know they’d receive a lot of bad feedback, if not a backlash of criticism from their own community should they go down that dark road of “Pay for loot”.

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #44

We can already pay for loot? I think it’s a matter of scale though.

If the Norfleet was something that could be purchased (for example), and its availability as a loot drop remained unchanged, what’s the difference? You can still farm your favorite raid boss for it and ignore the sale? Is it the notion that you might never know if the drop rates were altered to bump sales (and that the sale is sitting right there) that would be a little extra irritation during another failed Norfleet drop that’s the issue here?

I’m still trying to put my finger on the actual line between un- and acceptable microtransactions, but it still seems to amount to, “another company made a bad game because of microtransactions; please don’t do this”, when other companies make bad games all the time and it’s not an issue? Why no similar rants for, “another company made a bad game because of quickscoping/Quicktime events/unskippable cut scenes/online only gameplay/lousy engine choice/unpatched bugs/rampant cheaters; please don’t do this”? Are microtransactions just in the spotlight now because EA did it wrong, or are they somehow inherently worse than any of the other zillion things a game company could do to ruin a game?

For example, what’s the difference between the loot pack sales currently in place (where they just land in your loadout the next time you start a game) and acquiring them via a loot box? That the gear doesn’t fall out of the sky in a public setting? That the rewards aren’t randomized? That the gear is mostly cosmetic? That the weapons are largely considered inconsequential (I’m thinking of the Gearbox-themed starter weapons and the Contraband Sky Rocket)? That the sale items are not available as an in-game drop?

I’d go with the latter, but if those pools were mixed, as in, some enemy had the Contraband Sky Rocket in its loot pool, or you could purchase a loot pack that included the Kawaii Killer head, would that be a deal breaker? Depending on how good one thinks the grenade is (and I don’t get the idea that the Contraband Sky Rocket is on the top of everyone’s grenade list), and the fact that the head is purely cosmetic, these aren’t the sort of thing that would unbalance the game, so who cares?

If this same caliber of stuff is available in BL3 (cosmetic and/or inconsequential), I think Gearbox will avoid packaging them in loot boxes not because the offer would really be any different, but because there’s a witch hunt on for games with loot boxes.

(Is this thing on?) #45

This would be a Bad Thing™ If any of the following apply:

  • You care about the “purity” of the game (whatever you construe that to be)
  • There’s an active trading network included in the game beyond simply dropping gear (auction house)
  • There’s any kind of competitive versus mode added in (which isn’t in the spirit of BL2/TPS but was in BL1)
  • There were missions that could ONLY be completed if you had a Norfleet, but you had to pay for it
  • You could purchase a “chance” for a Norfleet with real money, but the drop rate was the same as in-game

I’m sure some folks will thing of other issues. Some of them will be personal, others won’t be.

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #46

How does this work? Like the market in TF2 where you can sell things? Is that because there’s some inherent issue with that besides the online-only requirement, or am I totally off base here?

That would be awkward, but this sounds like a very very small DLC? The Head Hunter packs are like this, but they are more of a full DLC (unique map, enemies, game mecanics, etc.) If the mission did have this requirement (and these conditions are strict for me for it not to cross the line: the mission must have no substantial reward and no unique content that was otherwise unavailable without that purchase) I wouldn’t mind. There are some side missions that I skip because I don’t care for them; this would just be another for a different reason. If those conditions aren’t met, I agree, but this is just cutting closer to the bone for the line between what merits DLC and what shouldn’t, no? As in, the message to Gearbox would be, “don’t make DLC for content that already exists in the game” (and I’m still not sure I have a problem with this; I would find it greedy and lame, but if the instances of this were rare (like one or two), I don’t think I would pass on buying the game). If a substantial number of missions were behind paywalls like this, I’d pass on a purchase, but you can see where I’m drawing the line here.

I’m still not clear on why this is an issue, other than your first purity argument? This sounds like an awful package, but other than that, don’t buy it if you don’t want? Gearbox might have an issue with gambling-related regulations with something like this in place, but (and this is crucial) assuming the drop rates haven’t been altered, the only difference is that a player has an extra option for acquiring a Norfleet now? For a non-multi-player game (another assumption), I don’t care how someone else gets their hands on a Norfleet (purchased or farmed) because the core game is otherwise unchanged.

This is a deal breaker, because now there’s a competitive advantage tied to one’s access to money.

(Is this thing on?) #47

Depends on how it’s implemented and what the real-world money involvement is. If real money is involved, then to protect users all saves would have to be server-side, which imposes an “always on-line” restriction. And, if there’s any way for people to exploit any flaws to make money by defrauding (or outright stealing), you know some will.

I’m thinking more main story missions or side quests - something in the vanilla game that you could not reasonably accomplish without a specific item of gear, but you had to pay extra to get it (or spend a highly unrealistic amount of time farming for it). The Norfleet, for example, is a highly desirable piece of gear, but I’ve been able to complete all the main game up to level 72 without having one. Soloing some of the raid bosses without it might be tricky, but then I could always co-op (as the developers obviously intended). If that was ever NOT the case for some part of the purchased game, that would be evil.

It’s not an issue (besides the purity argument) if you have no tendency to gambling addiction and your own source of disposable income. You know, however, how young some of those playing the BL games are, and how poorly developed their self-control can be. If a parent made the mistake of not setting parental controls (or compromised on it) and had a credit card attached to their on-line profile… I’ve seen some pretty horrendous stories of huge credit card bills from such things, both on mobile games AND console. And there are certainly enough adults who can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to what is effectively gambling.

(Fun fact: I once had a credit card suspended by the card company because I used it for a single purchase through the Microsoft XBox Store. According to the agent on the support line when I called about it, XBL is a huge source of disputed charges. I can believe that.)

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #48

Thanks. I’m playing devil’s advocate for the arguments in favor of microtransactions to try to get people to really define what the message is, like where the line(s) are across which publishers should not cross (as opposed to any actual favor with these systems). If all developers hear is, “no microtransactions” without a solid, detailed description of what these entail, it’s hard to act on that. As the fan base making the plea, the onus is on us to make the message as clear as possible if we want them to hear it… something seriously constructive.

I think I’ve picked up some good arguments to make against some of the microtransaction-based issues, and want to post a summary of them at some point so we can refine them as a community and ultimately say, “this is where the line is, beyond which you will alienate some of us”.

It’s not an easy message to get across, given how much “noise” there is in social media. How many rants were there against UVHM and how difficult it was on social media (even though it was optional)? If Gearbox listens to that for feedback, they won’t include that sort of difficulty level in future installments, and the game will be worse for it. How many rants against backpack space limitations do you remember? Many, and it probably alienated some players, but not so many that Gearbox didn’t stick to their guns about it and maybe lost a few sales. How many rants against the Contraband Sky Rocket only being available (outside of a singular promotional event) with a cash purchase? Any? How many rants against making BL3 online only? Some. Enough to change their mind about it? Maybe, but you see what I’m getting at; they can’t please everyone, so they make a call and see what happens. If we want them to pay attention to these particular issues, I think the most constructive way to do it is provide a specific message so they can at least make a more informed decision.

With that in mind, let me examine one of these issues in more detail. Let’s say that right now, you stumbled across some dark corner of Steam where you found a legitimate loot pack for sale that’s been available since the game started which includes a Norfleet (say it was accidentally listed under the wrong game and nobody had stumbled across it before). Would that somehow sour all the fun you had farming this weapon previously? Would you suddenly stop playing because the game that you’ve enjoyed for all these years turns out to have had this microtransaction available? Could you continue to play and enjoy the game knowing that this option, which you are free to continue to ignore, was available?

Bonus question: if the Contraband Sky Rocket was added to someone’s loot pool permanently, would that take away from the game’s enjoyment?

(Jakobs Public Relation) #49

Look at the Bekah for example, you need to own Digipeak to even have one. So technically it is a micro-transaction weapon, the gun is wrapped around an arena DLC so people don’t focus on it. But imagine if it was sold for $1 on steam where you got the Bekah + Godfinger pack. I think people will throw a fit on that.

For some reason “content” is associated with “activities for players to do” or a “new map with voice acting” or “more story stuff” so people don’t mind paying for “content” dlc where you can include exclusive guns and gear for that content. But the moment you strip away the gear from those “content” dlc and sell them separately (even if its at a fraction of the price), it is suddenly an issue and people will be quick to toss around P2W.

Personally it is all the same to me, one way or another I am paying money for a new gun, be it wrap around a “content” DLC or not.

Imagine I told you to come up with a character build without any Season Pass or DLC content. You might not have the strongest build possible there. So I can see the P2W argument even for the current state of BL2.

I honestly would love to see alternative skin packs for guns, and wouldn’t mind if they were behind MTA.

Here is my humble suggestion to Gearbox, release a SDK with BL3, you’ll find a lot less people complaining about MTA.

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #50

Well said, thanks… that’s a good look at the line.

It probably wouldn’t be the strongest (let’s say it’s not possible when compared to the DLC-available gear), but for a single-player game, who cares when there are builds that could be considered “strong enough” without that content? As you mentioned, it doesn’t seem to be an issue now that many of these high-end builds are largely behind Captain Scarlett’s DLC, so maybe it doesn’t matter?

For players who don’t have a Norfleet (for example) to achieve this non-DLC-based build, does it matter why they don’t have one if a sale (read: “pay to win”) one is available in the marketplace? As in, is it okay that they don’t yet have one because drop rates haven’t been favorable despite hours of farming, nobody gifted them a spare despite desperate requests on the forums, they don’t want to cobble one together illegitimately despite the availability of this software, but it’s not okay that none of those other reasons have panned out when it’s for sale?

(Velocitas Est Vita) #51

Pay-to-win and balancing aspects of the game aside, I would prefer that small-scale extra content be simply added in at no cost. Being the stingy old miser that I am, I’ve always disliked being made to pay for small bites of extra content. Whilst I am perfectly happy to pay for large DLCs which actually add a sizable amount of content and took a decent amount of time and effort to develop (Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep being an excellent example), I am not willing to pay for a small content pack that simply adds a few new weapons, even though it may be cheap. Large bundles of said extra weapons I would consider.

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #52

Weapons, not cosmetics, I take it?

(Velocitas Est Vita) #53

Yes. Cosmetics I’m not overtly concerned with, as they don’t impact the gameplay and have little effect on my (personal) enjoyment of the game.

(Jakobs Public Relation) #54

I think that’s due to the complexity of the game and the time it took for people to realize how strong the Season Pass gear were. The parts system is so complex for the majority of the players that this aspect of balance is not even on their radar. The new guns are just another new cool gun to shoot things with.

Borderlands is one of those game that can get away with this, while I think another game might not share the same luck, especially when that loot shooter try to make pvp a big part of their offering (e.g The Division, Destiny). Furthermore the season pass also sold so well that it wasn’t even an issue, people just had access.

I mean you can forget about all this if Gearbox makes a big play for PvP on BL3 (I sincerely hope the don’t touch pvp with a 10 foot stick).

I don’t think it is an issue personally, but it can be a point of discussion if we are trying to cover everything on this topic. I can see someone making a case where farming is a lot faster with the DLC guns vs. Vanilla. There are certain things that would be so different for a player without the DLC content. Imagine Melee Zer0 without Scarlet weapons, or any of the 200 Pimp builds, Deputy Sal, Rough Rider on Kreig…all this do add up.

I think the most fair direction would be to make all the new loot available free for everyone, but the map and story content for the “zone” can be behind a pay wall. That way they avoid any form of criticism completely in regards to the “have and have nots”.

(King karl) #55

if everyone else can buy the same loot that I am farming for it cheapens the value and fun of that loot for me. The value of an object is affected by how easy it is to get and how many other people have it so “just don’t buy it and play like it isn’t there” is not a choice as your psychology will still be affected by its existence.

I don’t care if they do XP boosters or skins but if it has guns or gameplay items in it like grenade mods BL3 is dead

(Stay frosty.....) #56

One thing I hope Gearbox dont ever do is what Bungle did with Destiny1 , where they released a dlc that actually took content away(well , restricted maybe) from people that didnt buy it.

It was full on shady and manipulative in my opinion and I stopped supporting the game because of it.

Also , one of the things that disturbed me about Destiny was that they apparently did an in depth study on the psychology of gamers and addiction , to help them figure out how to implement their loot system.

I dont know how true that is but if so its unsettling to think that some game companies are going to these lengths to exploit people with regards to micro transactions.

I also read somewhere that the Belgian authorities had looked into the gambling nature of Loot boxes/card packs to figure if they should be classed as gambling and regulated as such.

Either way , its obvious that MT’s are becoming a big part of the gaming industry and they should definitely be monitored/regulated I believe

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #57

In a single-player game? This right here might be the crux of this particular MTA issue. I don’t think everyone feels this way, but some apparently do. Let me refine this further: if the loot in question is of high value as you describe (difficult to obtain and rare in the population), how much does the utility of this loot come in to play? As in, if some of this loot is purely cosmetic, some is handy to use in combat, and some could be exploited for raid boss kills, how does this affect the value?

What happened there?

Would it be better if they stumbled into a money-making loot system by chance? Would Gearbox get a pass if they didn’t do the research themselves but used existing research to the same end? Why aren’t game companies allowed to try to figure out how to make more money out of a game (not the same as actually implementing one of these money making schemes)?

If this game (or any) actually crosses the line into online gambling, no matter how much first-person shooter, RPG combat, whatever it’s wrapped in, it should be classed as gambling and regulated as such. I’m not sure this would alter my decision about whether or not to play the game if the gambling aspect is totally optional.

Let’s say you could spend actual cash to play the slot machines in Moxxi’s bar, but the only reward was a cash return (like a real slot machine). It would be full-blown online gambling (and subject to these regulations), but who cares? Some people certainly do (they don’t like the option of gambling in general, and/or they’re the sort who would be excluded from playing because of the regulations), and I think that may be the definition of this flavor of MTA.

If the slot machines had the normal Moxxi rewards, we would have a pay-to-win situation (since you could buy your way to deeper ammo pools by spending the Eridium with Earl and maybe get some legendary gear out of it too, for example). That’s a separate issue from online gambling though, even though they can be combined.

What kind of MTA? Online gambling? Absolutely. Selling cosmetic loot packs? Maybe not.

(Is this thing on?) #58

I think there’s a few things going on here in terms of general reactions:

  1. MTAs in competitive multiplayer games have gotten a really bad reputation and are widely loathed. Call it guilt by association for non-PvP games
  2. The gambling objection applies to both single, co-op, and multiplayer: if the MTA consists of real money for a chance at desirable items, this is going to be a problem - more so for some than others, true, but it’s not good and could draw legislative attention if publishers/developers don’t rethink this.
  3. A big question is can you reasonably obtain all items through game-play, or are some items of gear only accessible if you buy them or spend 1000s of hours for that one thing. If the things I’m buying are purely cosmetic and don’t affect game-play, I don’t think this matters.
  4. The preceding is a sub-question of a larger one: what, exactly, is considered to be acceptable as a paid addition to a paid vanilla game? A lot of the current argument seems to be where money-earning MTAs from F2P games are seeping into paid games.

(Guajiro Pandoreño) #59

For good reason - there’s a level of unfairness leveled at other players who don’t pay to play. For non-PVP games, this unfairness doesn’t affect other players (outside of jealousy that someone else is working an advantage they paid for).

This line is, I think, well established: if they make a game mechanic that classifies their game as ‘online gambling’, it might get regulated as such. People’s distaste for this seems to fall into two camps (with some crossover, naturally): they don’t like gambling in principle to the point that if it’s a non-game-breaking option that can be ignored completely, this is still a deal breaker, and those who are concerned that the game will cross a line into actual online gambling and that the regulations would then make the game a deal breaker (I’m too young to play, it’s not available in my state, there’s some serious age verification requirements, etc.)

I do wonder if the complaints are more, “watch out for regulation” vs “I dislike gambling” though. For the other sorts of regulatory minefields Gearbox has to avoid (nudity/sex, showing certain religions in a bad light, showing certain people in a bad light, plagiarism, promoting superstition… the US is relatively good about this, but there are some weird regulations in other countries), I don’t see rallies for these. Is online gambling on deck because it’s in the spotlight at the moment? Other games that have come face to face with the spectre of an “Adult Only” rating (which might be one of the regulatory outcomes of a game that includes full-blown online gambling) have been pretty good about backing out the content in question. Is there a concern that Gearbox will a) go down this route and b) not back down in the face of this sort of regulation?

It apparently matters to some, and reasonably is a variable with a wide range. I’m trying to drill down to a question that can be proposed to see where people fall on this scale to see if this is an actual thing or a vocal minority.

That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Apparently Gearbox didn’t cross any lines with their numerous available MTAs in BL2 (for example), so it’s not MTAs in general.

(Is this thing on?) #60

Depends on who you talk to. Some people are still miffed that the Head Hunter packs weren’t included in the season pass for those who’d bought it.

On the previous point, I think a number of people had calculated just how many hours you’d need to play to get equivalent in-game credits to purchase MTA items without using real world cash. Given a 40-45 hour work week, estimating free time available for gaming, figure out how much in-game currency you can reasonably expect to earn over, say, 1 month of only playing that game - what does that get you, versus how much real money to simply purchase? It’s in interesting question, for sure.