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Hawaii lawmakers introduce state bills to ban sales of games with loot boxes to under 21 customers, label on box – UPDATED

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UPDATE: A United States Senator from New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, has sent a letter to the ESRB asking them to reconsider their position about loot boxes in video games. Back in October, ESRB released a statement that they do not believe loot boxes and microtransactions are a form of gambling and stated that they do not have any plans to actually change any of their rating policy.

Senator Hassan sent a letter to ESRB today asking them to reconsider and analyze how loot boxes are placed and marketed for games and see if it’s ethical or not. She says, at minimum, ESRB should consider putting identifying markers on physical boxes to inform customers that games have randomized loot boxes.

Here’s the letter Senator Hassan sent to ESRB’s President today:

Patricia Vance
President
Entertainment Software Ratings Board

Dear Ms. Vance:
I write to today regarding an important gaming issue that was recently brought to my attention by a constituent.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has an important mission in both providing parents with the necessary information to make decisions about the suitability of games, and their content, for children, as well as ensuring that the industry is following responsible marketing practices.

The ESRB rating system is of great value to parents across the country, empowering parents to make informed decisions on behalf of their children. As technology advances, ESRB must work to keep pace with new gaming trends, including the in-game micro-transactions and predatory gaming tactics, particularly as they are deployed on minors.

The prevalence of in-game micro-transactions, often referred to as ‘loot boxes,’ raises several concerns surrounding the use of psychological principles and enticing mechanics that closely mirror those often found in casinos and games of chance. The potential for harm is real. Recently the World Health Organization classified “gaming disorder” as a unique condition in its recent draft revision of the 11th International Classification of Diseases. While there is robust debate over whether loot boxes should be considered gambling, the fact that they are both expensive habits and use similar psychological principles suggest loot boxes should be treated with extra scrutiny. At minimum, the rating system should denote when loot boxes are utilized in physical copies of electronic games.

To that end, I respectfully urge the ESRB to review the completeness of the board’s ratings process and policies as they relate to loot boxes, and to take into account the potential harm these types of micro-transactions may have on children. I also urge the board to examine whether the design and marketing approach to loot boxes in games geared toward children is being conducted in an ethical and transparent way that adequately protects the developing minds of young children from predatory practices.

Further, I urge the ESRB to consider working with the relevant stakeholders – including parents – to collect and publish data on how developers are using loot boxes, how widespread their use is, and how much money players spend on them.

Finally, I ask that you develop best practices for developers, such as ethical design, tools for parents to disable these mechanisms, or making them less essential to core gameplay.

During a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, Senator Hassan asked four potential FTC nominees if they would consider investigating best practices for developers and loot boxes to prevent children from being addicted to them in video games. The four nominees said they would consider investigating if their nominee to the FTC was approved. She also stated that if ESRB fails to act, the FTC should do something about loot boxes in video games.

Via RollingStone


Hawaii lawmakers have been adamant on having loot boxes removed from major video games after the debacle of Star Wars Battlefront II. When the debacle started, Hawaii lawmaker called Star Wars Battlefront II “a Star Wars-themed online casino.”

Lawmakers have introduced a pair of new bills in both the state-House and state-Senate (House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024) to ban the sales of video games with loot boxes to anyone under the age of 21. Currently, many of the games with randomized loot boxes are rated Teen or Mature. This ban would impose the games to be rated similarly, but not sold to anyone under 21.

The next set of bills introduced, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would require all game makers to prominently label boxes for games that have randomized loot boxes and show the probability rates of receiving items in loot boxes.

These bills have not been adopted into state law yet, but if done, would set a precedent in how game makers can use loot boxes. There would have to be separate packaging of games for all titles with randomized loot boxes sold in Hawaii if the laws are implemented.

“I grew up playing games my whole life,” said state Rep. Chris Lee of Oahu, who spearheaded the bills. “I’ve watched firsthand the evolution of the industry from one that seeks to create new things to one that’s begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit.”

Rep. Lee stated that he’s been communicating with legislators in other states about possibly implementing such laws in their states, but no bills have been proposed in any other state in America as of now.

The full bills are accessible at the following links: HB 2686SB 3024HB 2727, and SB 3025.

SOURCE: Hawaii Herald 

Activision

How to enable two factor authentication on your Call of Duty Account

Protect your account now!

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Activision has finally added an additional, much needed layer of security for your Call of Duty account.

For over a year, cross play has been the standard in Call of Duty. All of your Call of Duty purchases, rank & progression all are linked to your Activision account, or Call of Duty account. This is the account you use for crossplay and the account you’ll also be using in Black Ops Cold War to unify your rank with Warzone and Modern Warfare.

If you tend to use the same password across many accounts, or if you don’t want to risk the possibility of losing your Call of Duty account, take the following steps to protect your account.

  • 1. Go to this website to start.
  • 2. Select “Set Up Two-Factor Authentication”
  • 3. Log in to your Call of Duty account through your Activision login, or a linked PlayStation, Xbox, Steam or BattleNET account.
  • 4. Download the Google Authenticator for your phone, available on the App Store or Google Play Store. (Or use another Authentication app of your choice).
  • 5. Press the “+” icon on the top left of the Google Authenticator, and scan the QR code displayed on the page.
  • 6. Enter in the code in the Google Authenticator app to finalize the link.

After you’ve completed the process, be sure to login to your account one more time just to verify the process was correct.

Once this is done and activated, when you login to Activision or Call of Duty account, you will be asked to use the Google Authenticator passcode in addition to your regular password to login.

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Activision

Modern Warfare is now the best selling Call of Duty in its first year

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Activision Blizzard has announced it’s Q3 2020 Financial Results, which continue to exceed expectations as people move to gaming avenues during this time.

Activision has stated that generated over $1.2 billion in revenue from microtransactions across all of their titles, a new record for Q3.

The company also announced that Modern Warfare is now the best selling premium Call of Duty in its first year ever, with almost two-thirds coming digitally. Warzone also continues to see incredible success, on PC as well, with PC microtransaction sales four times higher this year.

“Our teams continue to execute our growth plans with excellence during incredibly challenging circumstances,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “We are on a path to deliver sustained long-term growth across our fully-owned franchises. With confidence in our ability to continue to execute, we are raising our outlook for the year and remain enthusiastic for our growth prospects next year.”

Activision says that monthly active users for Modern Warfare & Warzone saw “three times as many” this year compared to Q3 2019.

Here’s the higlights from Activision on the quarter, which is quite impressive:

  • Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® and Warzone™ saw more than three times as many MAUs as the prior title in the year-ago quarter. Console MAU grew strongly and PC MAUs grew over ten-fold year-over-year. Across PC and console combined, hours played were approximately seven times higher year-over-year.
  • We again saw substantial year-over-year growth in premium game sales as Warzone players chose to upgrade to the full Call of Duty experience. Modern Warfare first-year premium sales are the highest in Call of Duty’s history, with two-thirds of units sold digitally.
  • Call of Duty console and PC in-game net bookings were four times the year-ago level.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will release on November 13 into the largest and most engaged community in franchise history at the time of launch, and will support cross-platform play across PC, current-generation, and next-generation consoles. Anticipation for the release is high, with far more players engaged in the game’s public testing than for the year-ago title.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War arrives Nov. 13.

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Call of Duty League

CDL Commissioner Johanna Faries set to be lead both CDL and OWL

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This week has been an interesting week for Activision Blizzard’s Esports division and leagues.

It was first reported earlier this week that Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez is in talks with Immortals to reacquire the OpTic Gaming brand. With that, H3CZ would also acquire the CDL LA Spot.

Since H3CZ is a part of NRG has Co-CEO with the Chicago Huntsmen, Activision’s rules state one organization cannot own two spots in the same league. Rumors of who H3CZ plans to sell the spot to is rampant, but no official information has been disclosed.

Late on Thursday, Esports Observed also reported that Pete Vlastelica, the Commissioner of the Overwatch League stepped down from his role.

Now, EsportsObserved reports that Johanna Faries, current Commissioner of the Call of Duty League, is expanding her role to become ‘Head of Leagues’ at Activision Blizzard. In this newly created position, she will lead both Overwatch League and Call of Duty League’s league administration and broadcast operations.

Brandon Snow, current Chief Revenue Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports, is expanding his role to include marketing & analytics for the league. The former Chief Marketing Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports left in early September to be VP of DC Comics division of WarnerBros.

Both these new roles will take effect October 12, per EsportsObserved.

The first season of the Call of Duty League ended on August 31 with the Call of Duty League Championship Weekend. The event featured the most viewers in Call of Duty esports history, capping off a dynamically changing year with the on going pandemic.

Call of Duty League’s second season is set to kick off in 2021 with some major changes. The league announced that it will return to a 4v4 format, leaving one player on each roster looking for another starting role. They also announced that matches will be played on PC using controllers going forward instead of extending the esports partnership with PlayStation.

Activision has not announced these changes officially at this time.

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