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US FTC commits to investigating loot boxes in video games

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The United States Federal Trade Commission committed to opening an investigation to analysis the loot boxes in video games and their effect on child gambling.

During an oversight committee hearing in Congress, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) asked FTC chairman Joe Simons whether he was willing to undertake the task of running the investigation and report back to the committee. Simons responded, “Yes,” alongside other Chairmans present nodding in approval to do so.

“Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smart phone games to the newest, high budget releases,” said Hassan, “Loot boxes will represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022.”

“It’s time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected,” said Hassan, “And to educate parents about potential addiction and other negative impacts of these games.”

The issue of loot boxes and gambling in the video game industry became a scandal of its own when EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017 caused a widespread outrage over the pay to win aspect of the game. EA had to tone back many of their microtransaction plans because of the outrage, and lost a lot of revenue on the game throughout the calendar year.

Belgium Commission has already conducted their investigation and found that loot boxes are gambling and have required many games to remove their loot boxes from the titles; one of the titles effected is Blizzard’s Overwatch. The commission in Belgium has not yet investigated an Activision titles.

Call of Duty has had a supply drop system in the games since Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

In addition, in the U.S, the state of Hawaii opened their own investigation into loot boxes and their effect on children. State Senators from Hawaii last year called out EA in a press conference, referring to Star Wars Battlefront II as a ‘Star Wars-themed online casino.’ 

Senator Hassan has been at the forefront of the initiative to investigate loot boxes. The Senator asked the ESRB to investigate loot boxes and their effects, but the ESRB followed up by stating that they do not believe loot boxes are gambling but did add a new ‘In-Game Purchases’ Label to all games that contain in-game paid content.

Polygon reached out to the Entertainment Software Association, known as ESA.

ESA responded to Polygon: “Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.”

The first two minutes of this video showcases the exchange in the committee hearing, which took place Nov. 27:

SOURCE: Polygon

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Activision

Activision files cease and desist letter against another cheat manufacturer

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Activision Blizzard continues to take down cheat manufacturer sites to stop the spread of different cheats for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone.

In August, the company filed a lawsuit against CXCheats for illegally creating cheats to be used in an IP owned by Activision Blizzard. CXCheats since deleted all cheats for Modern Warfare and Warzone in compliance with the lawsuit.

Now, in September, another large cheat manufacturer, GatorCheats, has said that Activision Blizzard has filed a cease and desist letter to stop them from making cheats for Call of Duty games.

The owner of GatorCheats said in their Discord that the first letter was filed by in May 2020, but they did not fully comply with that – opting to allow cheats to continue to be available.

In May 2020, Activision Blizzard’s attorneys contacted me via a Cease and Desist letter. Considering this event, I decided to act on my already pending decision to close all sales to new customers for my product relating to Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Activision has since escalated the requests. In Sept. 2020, the owner of GatorCheats claims that Activision Blizzard served another cease and desist letter. But, this time, a PI showed up at his residence with the letter and informed him of what Activision knows about their site and the owners behind it.

In September 2020, Activision Blizzard’s attorneys had another Cease and Desist letter hand delivered to me by who I assume was a PI, considering he knew my family members by name and made a point to showcase that he did. Also in September 2020, I received very clear communication in a follow up from Activision Blizzard’s attorneys communicating that they would litigate (file a law suit against me) if I didn’t comply with continuation of stopped sales as well as a complete stoppage of interaction with and updating of any products related to their client’s products.

The full letter from the owner states that he will “never make or create” a cheat for an Activision Blizzard product again after receiving the letters and a visit from them at his house.

Activision has not commented on their anti-cheat initiatives since June, where the company said they continue to ban players on a regular basis.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Activision files lawsuit against cheat manufacturer

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Activision filed a lawsuit to sue a company responsible for creating hacks and exploits for Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Activision has sued CXCheats for illegally creating cheats to use in Call of Duty, the company announced.

CXCheats claims on their website that they are “dedicated to quality.”

This is a pathetic marketing line to convince users to buy cheats to use in Call of Duty.

The owner announced on Discord (message posted to Reddit) that they are removing Warzone cheats from their site.

Announcement Message

As some of you may know, Activision Publishing, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against CXCheats and has made it clear to us that our services violate their Terms of Use.

As a result of our lawsuit with Activision, we have agreed to cease development and support for all Call of Duty related products or services sold through the site. These products will not be returning to CXCheats in any form. You also should be aware that using third-party tools in Call of Duty may result in the suspension or banning of your account by Activision Publishing, Inc. or the game’s developers. We apologize for any pain we’ve caused to players of Call of Duty.

Call of Duty: Warzone has been experiencing an intense amount of hackers since the game’s launch on March 13 on the PC platform.

With cross play, the hacks impacted the console players as well. PS4 players have opted to disable cross play to avoid them. Xbox players currently cannot disable cross play for unknown reasons.

CXCheats said on Discord that any user found using their software in Warzone will be banned, permanently.

Any user who utilizes unauthorized third-party software to gain an unfair advantage, manipulate stats, and/or manipulate game data is subject to penalty. Unauthorized third-party software includes, but is not limited to, aimbots, wallhacks, trainers, stats hacks, texture hacks, leaderboard hacks, injectors, or any other software used to deliberately modify game data on disk or in memory.

As of now, Activision has not commented on the lawsuit.

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Former MLB executive joins Activision Blizzard to lead Sports & Entertainment

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Activision Blizzard announced this week that former MLB executive will be joining the company starting August 17 in a newly formed position of President of Sports & Entertainment.

Petitti was the Deputy Commissioner and COO of MLB for years.

“Tony is one of the most highly regarded executives in sports and entertainment,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “His success in media and as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball is the perfect blend of skills to help us realize our aspirations for esports and our related businesses. He is admired by owners, media executives, players and fans.”

“Bobby Kotick has been translating his vision into opportunity at Activision Blizzard for 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited to use my own 30 years of sports and entertainment experience to help Activision Blizzard realize its ambitions,” said Petitti. “It’s clear to me the company has an incredible opportunity to connect players and fans in new and innovative ways, and I’m excited to be joining the company at such an important moment in its history. The last 12 years in baseball have been extraordinary for me and I am especially grateful for the leadership and mentorship that Commissioner Manfred provided to me and the League.”

Tony Petitti will join on to be in charge of the company’s esports businesses, which include Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, consumer products division, and films & television division.

Petitti will report directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

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