FTC Investigation Reveals Streamers Are Paid to Open Loot Boxes, Given Better Odds - Prima Games

FTC Investigation Reveals Streamers Are Paid to Open Loot Boxes, Given Better Odds

by Liana Ruppert

Earlier this week we revealed a statement made by the Entertainment Software Association detailing all of the publishers that have agreed to be more transparent about the odds when it comes to in-game loot boxes. As the FTC continues to investigate the nature beyond purely cosmetic microtransactions – on a global scale, mind you – a recent look inside of the marketing of loot boxes have been made public regarding high-profile streamers.  

Not only does the report allege that high-profile streamers are paid to open loot boxes, something that isn’t that hard to understand in itself, they are also given different odds than the rest of the game’s playerbase when it comes to what’s inside. This is a direct manipulation in terms of promotional materials, according to the CEO of Online Performs Group Omeed Dariani during a recent presentation.

Dariani mentioned in a recent panel in Washington DC, “Companies do pay for the sort of thing. It’s pretty uncommon for it to specifically be ‘Hey, just open a bunch of loot boxes’ but we’ve definitely seen that … I’ve definitely been in a room where a publisher said ‘We could do better odds on the packs that this person opens for promotional purposes.'”

How extensive this practice truly is remains to be seen but it’s all part of a much bigger picture regarding loot boxes and their roles in popular games. This also makes the push for transparency all the more important. If you missed the earlier news, The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) made public a statement regarding Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony’s new policies regarding games containing loot boxes and how they are represented. This policy aims to make the odds of these paid options more transparent, allowing consumers to make more educated decisions on whether or not the buy is worth it. Huge names in the industry are on board including Blizzard, Bethesda, EA, Take-Two, Ubisoft, and more – several of those names having had been in the hot seat in the past regarding this exact practice. 

“Many other ESA members are considering a disclosure,” reads the joint statement. “The disclosure will apply to all new games and updates to games that add such in-game purchases and will be presented in a manner that is understandable and easily accessed. Taken together, these disclosures will help reach consumers playing across a variety of games, including PC games and other games delivered outside of the platforms.”

As more and more legislative actions come forward against this practice, the time for change was definitely inevitable but it’s good to see progress being made and made quickly. Numerous countries have already cracked down immensely, with some pushing to outlaw loot boxes altogether. 

A recent report made by GameIndustry also outlines which companies are not yet on board with this new disclosure: 

  • 505 Games
  • Capcom
  • CI Games
  • Deep Silver
  • Disney
  • Epic Games
  • Focus Home Interactive
  • Gearbox Publishing
  • GungHo
  • Intellivision Entertainment
  • Kalypso
  • Konami
  • Magic Leap
  • NCsoft
  • Natsume
  • Nexon
  • Rebellion
  • Riot Games
  • Sega
  • Square Enix
  • THQ Nordic
  • Tencent
  • Marvelous

We don’t have a solid release date yet for when this disclosure rule will go live but the end goal is before 2021. 

H/T Polygon

Edit: Upon reviewing the panel in question once more, I misunderstood the roles of the influencers first named. Though I have researched this topic extensively and have covered it for years, my misunderstanding of the context regarding the names created an error in the original article. It has been fixed as I’ve reached out to several names in addition to contact with “Angry Joe.”

Liana Ruppert

With an arguably unhealthy obsession with Dragon Age and Mass Effect, Liana is wildly passionate about all things in the gaming community. From shooters, to RPGs, if it's out - she's playing it. A medically retired US Sailor and now full-time hoarder of gaming collectibles, Liana's passion for everything in the gaming industry is palpable. Also, if you lose her in a crowd, just casually mention any BioWare game and the crazy pterodactyl screech will without a doubt follow. You can follow her on Twitter @DirtyEffinHippy or email her for editorial inquiries at [email protected]!