NBA 2K20 and the Legality of Loot Boxes in Video Games

NBA 2k20 Legality Loot BoxesLaunched on September 6th, NBA 2K20 brought a new wave of discussion regarding the notorious loot boxes in video games. This 2K Sports release is only the latest in a series of video game products from many famous publishers. The popular video-game virtual items identified as “loot boxes” have stirred up a great deal of commotion in the industry.

With the NBA 2K20 characters breaking in their shoes on the court, the matter is getting all the more attention. Authorities and businesses alike are looking at the best way to resolve the issue. However, not much has been decided on the matter as of yet.

News Highlights

  • 2K Sports is launching a new game, NBA 2K20, that resembles online gambling.
  • The legality of loot boxes and microtransactions remains unclear.
  • Online gamers remain wondering on the best course of action while authorities resolve the matter.

NBA 2K20 Ups the Stakes with Loot Boxes

NBA 2K20 was released on September 6th under the official license of the NBA. The game is now available on PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and PC. It is the latest in a line of launches by 2K Sports and represents the MyTeam game mode filled with famous basketball characters, features, and in-game elements.

How Does NBA 2K20 Work?

NBA 2K20 Loot Box Game

Triple Threat mode

The game consists of card decks filled with different players. It also has additional cards and other prizes that help players win. Some of the most valuable players are found in specific card packs or can be won in the Triple Threat mode.

Here, there are spin-to-win reels which offer players different prizes or in-game currency payouts. The ball-drop game also rewards successful players, along with the spinning wheel bonus game.

Each of these is bound to bring some payout to the player. The complete lack of information regarding the nature of the prize looks quite a lot like gambling.

What are Loot Boxes? This is a model that video game developers use to offer players “gambling-like activities” without an actual monetary prize.

Game Profits

The parent company, Take-Two Interactive, has achieved quite the fortune. They claim the flat fee for game purchases has kept revenue steady, but the loot boxes, microtransactions, and in-game purchases balance out the expense and profit budget.

For NBA 2K19, specifically, sale statistics show the game has sold over 12 million copies. However, the small recurrent player purchases reached 140% revenue just in the final quarter.

Are Loot Boxes and Microtransactions Legal?

Are Loot Boxes Legal

Loot Box Bundles

This is the question on everybody’s mind. Although efforts have been made to regulate the issue more thoroughly, opinions still differ between associations, authoritative bodies, and jurisdictions.

One course of action has been taken up by Washington and 15 European jurisdictions. They signed a declaration which prohibited any gambling-related elements in video games, esports, and social gaming. Previously, the matter had already been updated with mobile social game developers monetizing on in-game purchases.

However, neither of these used loot boxes or risked players’ funds for an uncertain outcome. Due to this, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) refused to classify loot boxes as gambling content in October 2017. This board later came up with an “in-game purchase” tag for all games, including such elements.

Recent Attempts at Regulating Loot Boxes

The Entertainment Software Association has made one attempt to regulate loot boxes. The Senior Policy Counsel, Michael Warnecke announced that Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft would demand odds disclosure on loot boxes for games coming out by 2020.

Also, many game developers have taken up the same initiative towards greater transparency and less gambling in video games. These include Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Warner Bros, Bethesda, and Electronic Arts, even though the last instance has been the target of criticism.

The Controversy Behind Star Wars Battlefront II

Star Wars Battlefront II Loot Boxes

Star Wards Battlefront II Poster

One of their latest releases, Star Wards Battlefront II, attracted quite the attention of regulators with their loot boxes. Hawaiian Representative Chris Lee called these elements “predatory practices” while naming the entire game a “Star Wars-themed online casino.”

Belgium’s gambling authority called upon the game as a combination of “money and addiction,” a slightly negative viewpoint for a video game.

Online Gamers & Loot Boxes

Gamers have expressed their dissatisfaction with loot boxes. A study conducted at the University of British Columbia is here to prove it. The resulting paper shows the extent of awareness of these loot boxes, both among 100+ North Americans, and just as many UBC undergraduate students.

In fact, up to 68.1% of the former, 86.2% of the latter, respectively, consider them to be gambling-related.

Further opposing arguments are the stats show that more than a quarter of each research target group has turned a profit from these games. This only further raises a warning to the potentially detrimental effects over longer timeframes.

About the Author
Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson - Writer / Editor

Joanne likes to stay on top of her game finding the latest trends on everything online casino related. She enjoys giving our readers a heads up on new casino bonuses and slot games.