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  Playing a long game...

Belgium's minister of justice is seeking to ban loot boxes from computer games


Link Here 22nd November 2017
Belgium flagLoot boxes are used to monetise games by allowing gamers to buy items that will prove useful in the game. The games designers seem to favour a lucky dip approach to the goodies that are sold leading to accusations of gambling as some loot boxes may prove better than others.

This week Belgium's Minister of Justice has deemed that the selling of loot boxes should be classed as gambling.

This comment comes after Belgium's Gaming Commission launched an investigation into loot boxes last week stating, The mixing of money and addiction is gambling.

Belgium's Minister of Justice Koen Geens has also weighed in on the issue and said:

Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.

Geens has stressed he is looking to have features such as look boxes banned in Belgium when the user does now know what they are receiving when they purchase. Geens noted that a ban will take time as he will have to proceed with the ban via Europe.

 

  Ruiner release ruined...

US games raters change the rules to require online games to submit to expensive rating fees should they subsequently want to release special editions on physical disks


Link Here 11th November 2017
esrb logoIn the US video games sold on disk have to pay for a rating from the ESRB. The fees are not published but is seems that they are quite expensive and are related to development budgets.

Online games do not require such a rating from the ESRB. However there is a bit of a crossover, as established online games have been creating special edition releases on disk.

However the ESRB has now changed the rules and all games require an ESRB rating no mater how they are sold. Thankfully the ratings for online will be free but game producers will now have to pay for special edition releases of initially online games. The ESRB is offering a discounted price of $3000 for this subsequent rating but this still seems expensive enough to make special edition releases uneconomic.

Sony has announced that it will be enforcing ESRB ratings requirements before allowing games on to its various console platforms.

kotaku.com.au have cited an example where the new ESRB requirements have led to the cancelling of a planned release.

Ruiner, a violent cyberpunk shooter that arrived digitally on PS4 in late September, was originally going to have a physical disc version released in the future. Developed by Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital, Ruiner had come up on the radar of Special Reserve Games, who had previously put out physical editions of Absolver, Shadow Warrior 2, and Strafe .

These packages often included not just hard copies of the game, but also art books, statues, and other boondoggles. Special Reserve Games planned to do the same with Ruiner until it became apparent that new rules being handed down by Sony would make the project prohibitively expensive.

In a statement on Twitter in late October, Special Reserve wrote:

In late August, the ESRB announced a new mandate for all physical releases across all consoles would soon be required, and shortly after we announced our intention to produce Ruiner , we received word that this mandate would be applied to it and future new game releases.

The process of obtaining this rating comes with a fee that puts the production costs for new releases like Ruiner out of the acceptable range for us to produce physical discs for PS4. This decision was agonizing, and we have tried multiple ways to reach a compromise, but sadly, we have had to change our plans to produce our intended collector edition PS4 discs for Ruiner .

 

  Wolfenstein II de-tached...

Video game cuts detailed for the German release


Link Here 30th October 2017
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus "Welcome to Amerika" Pack Germany has a bizarre censorship law that bans Nazi references and symbology from use in the media, presumably fearing that it may somehow stir a rebirth of the far right. One suspects that the current resurgence of the far right may be little do with media images, and is perhaps more likely to do with political leaders and their significantly unpopular policies of welcoming mass immigration.

Anyway the law is the law, and the latest video game in the Wolfenstein series has had to be censored in Germany (and probably Austria too). The previous episode, Wolfenstein: The New Order was also cut in 2014 to remove Nazi references.

wolfenstein ii video Wolfenstein II: Welcome to Amerika suffers the following cuts:

  • Hitler is renamed heiler (healer)
  • My fuhrer becomes mein Kanzler (my chancellor)
  • Hitler loses his iconic moustache
  • The swastika is replaced by a stark menacing looking three-pronged symbol
  • polygon.com also speculates that an actor is shot by Hitler for being a spy rather than being jewish.

 

 Extract: Censor Overwatch...

PCGamer calls for more 'toxicity marshals' to police Overwatch gamers


Link Here 28th October 2017
nazi soldiers marching
 
Toxicity marshals form an orderly queue for the job
 

If Blizzard wants Overwatch to be an inclusive shooter, it needs to deal with the game's toxic players.

Just two months after Overwatch's massive launch, Blizzard acknowledged that its game had a toxicity problem. Since Competitive has been live, we've been doing some under the hood tuning and tweaking on [the report function] to be more aggressive about handling toxic behavior, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan said at the time. But [toxicity] is not just in Competitive Play. I think as the game ages a little bit, people's dark sides tend to come out a little bit more. 15 months later, the company's attempts to address the situation have proved painfully slow and ultimately ineffectual.

Blizzard's most recent acknowledgement is a developer update video entitled Play Nice, Play Fair, which celebrated the release of player reporting on consoles, a feature that should have been present from the start. In the 15 months it took to implement, more than 480,000 PC players were hit with disciplinary actions by Blizzard -- 340,000 of those the direct result of player reporting -- more than a thousand per day.

...

Toxicity is a nebulous term, but today it's a container for all the ways that other players can make a multiplayer game a miserable experience. It's hardly an issue unique to Overwatch, but the difference in this case is that from the start Blizzard has consistently presented the game as the inclusive shooter. The game's diverse cast of characters, though certainly not perfect, seems to have succeeded in netting a wider audience than most FPSes -- twice as many women play it than the genre average, for example. Yet it's these marginalized players who are most hurt by Blizzard's failure to stem the flow of bad behavior within its game.

...

It's important to remember that Blizzard has made more than $1 billion in profits from Overwatch alone. The company could, and should, spend money on a hiring a new set of employees for whom toxicity is a specific focus -- Riot established a team of more than 30 scientists and social systems designers to focus on toxic League of Legends player behavior in 2012 -- or the sake of the players and other developers alike. There isn't a magic bullet for toxicity, but adding bodies to the task does help. In any case, toxicity is a problem that shouldn't require the redirection of resources. It's a core issue of all modern competitive games that affects the entire Overwatch experience, and Blizzard should have dedicated resources to it from the start.

...

Blizzard is in the position to dedicate effort and resources into experimenting with ways to make truly inclusive systems. Until the company is willing to shoulder that responsibility, its promises to welcome marginalised players are empty words. Overwatch has long billed itself as an inclusive game. But one needs to play only a few rounds to discover that Blizzard has not succeeded in its intent to create a world where everyone is welcome.

...Read the full article from pcgamer.com

 

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