Overwatch China changes loot box purchases to dodge gambling laws
Earlier this year, China implemented anti-gambling laws which required games to divulge the probability to earn certain drops in random loot boxes. Through these measures, we learned the drop rates from certain Blizzard games — or at least, their baseline chances in the Chinese version of the client. Likewise, online games and services cannot ask players to directly pay for lottery tickets — and random loot boxes are, indeed, considered lottery tickets. However, an upcoming patch for the Chinese client of Overwatch is potentially implementing a change which exploits a loophole in the new law.
Reddit user wolf0619 provided a translation for the original announcement which states, essentially, players will not be purchasing loot boxes directly. Instead, players will be purchasing the currency used to craft cosmetic items and loot boxes will be given as a “gift” for making such a purchase. In other words, you technically aren’t paying for random loot boxes, so it isn’t necessarily gambling. These are the available purchase options according to wolf0619:
- 5 in-game currency + 2 loot boxes 12RMB
- 15 in-game currency + 5 loot boxes 30RMB
- 30 in-game currency + 11 loot boxes 60RMB
- 60 in-game currency + 24 loot boxes 120RMB
- 120 in-game currency + 50 loot boxes 238RMB
After converting the currency to US Dollars, 12RMB is roughly $1.77. For $1.77, you’re purchasing 5 in-game gold — which is roughly 1/5 the price of a spray, the cheapest possible item to craft in the game. Of course, with the purchase of 5 in-game currency, you receive a “gift” of 2 loot boxes, which is definitely not the thing you’re actually buying. You’re totally paying $1.77 for 5 in-game currency. Seems legit!
While we have yet to see whether or not similar changes will arrive in Heroes of the Storm in China, chances are good it’ll happen sooner rather than later. Heroes 2.0‘s implementation of gems and shards as in-game currencies seems custom-tailored to exactly such an eventuality: buy X number of Shards in Heroes, receive Y loot boxes as a “gift.”
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