Connect with us

Activision

US Senator introduces bill to ban loot boxes and pay to win microtransaction in video games

Published

on

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has announced that he is introducing a bill to the Senate floor that will ban loot boxes and pay to win microtransaction in video games that are “played by minors.” This bill targets games that are played by those under 18.

The bill is called “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act.”

“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction,” Hawley said. “And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”

The main goals of this bill are as follows, per Senator Hawley’s release:

  • Games targeted at those under the age of 18.
    • This would be determined by subject matter, visual content, and other indicators similar to those used to determine applicability of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
  • Games with wider audiences whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions

Call of Duty is rated Mature game meant for players 17 years or older in US, but this bill is broad to target against games that have “pay to win” style microtransactions. Activision’s Call of Duty could be affected, but there’s no indication for that as of now.

This ban would affect other games across the industry like Blizzard’s Overwatch, EA titles like FIFA, Apex, and even some ways Fortnite’s Save the World mode.

In a press release, Senator Hawley gave an example of Candy Crush’s microtransactions, a game owned by Activision Blizzard.

Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits,” Hawley said. “No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices.”

Loot boxes and microtransactions has been a big issue in the video game industry the last several years as more developers have implemented such systems in their games. The major shift in public opinion on loot boxes started after EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II controversy with the title having immense pay to win features across the board.

The Entertainment Software Association sent us the following statement in regards to the US Senator’s new bill:

“Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.” – Stanley Pierre-Louis, Acting President and CEO, Entertainment Software Association

The ESA has been siding with publishers on this since the start of the controversy stating that parents should have additional information to make the decisions for what games their kids play versus changing the industry itself to have the US government intervene. Many people are hesitant to allow the government to regulate it, as it could lead to drastic changes for the industry.

The FTC even opened an investigation into loot boxes and plans to host a hearing in August with community members, developers, and more to discuss the loot box issues and ways to move forward.

Activision has not issued a statement regarding this bill at this time.

SOURCE: Verge / Senator Hawley

Activision

T-Mobile reportedly no longer a sponsor of Call of Duty League & Overwatch League

T-Mobile appears to have ended their sponsorship of both the CDL and OWL after Activision Blizzard harassment lawsuits surfaced.

Published

on

T-Mobile appears to have abruptly ended their sponsorship of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League this past week. The company’s logo has been removed from the sponsorship section of both of the websites.

T-Mobile was one of the largest non-endemic partners of the Call of Duty League. The US wireless carrier was the Official 5G Sponsor of the League and featured weekly 5G T-Mobile Drops for fans to enter to win real life prizes.

The Call of Duty League features sponsors including the U.S. Army, Astro Gaming, SCUF Gaming, Zenni Gaming, Game Fuel, USAA Insurance, and Google Cloud.

T-Mobile’s logo was seen on the Call of Duty League site as recently as July 21 alongside the other sponsors, per the Wayback Machine, as seen in the screenshot below:

Call of Duty League website – July 21, 2021

Now, visiting the Call of Duty League website and looking at the same sponsor area, T-Mobile’s logo has been removed. The other sponsor’s logos are still featured.

Call of Duty League website – July 31, 2021

Another part of T-Mobile’s activation with the Call of Duty League was their 5G Weekly Drop activation, where viewers could text a code to a number to enter for a chance to win bonus items – like free controllers, phones, headsets, and even a trip to CDL Champs.

However, for the Stage 5 Major event (taking place July 29 through August 1), the official rules website says the Weekly Drop was cancelled with no explanation provided.

T-Mobile was also a sponsor of Activision Blizzard’s other major league, the Overwatch League. But on the OWL’s website sponsor section strip, T-Mobile’s logo is gone. It was there as soon as Monday, July 26. T-Mobile’s branding still appears on their site for Viewership Drops as those assets appears to have not been updated yet.

It’s not officially confirmed as to why T-Mobile has decided to end its sponsorship of both of the leagues so suddenly or if the sponsorship is truly over, but the timing seems suspicious with the recent harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the state of California.

Activision Blizzard employees staged a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s responses to the harassment lawsuit over a toxic, sexist workplace culture.

Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick responded in an email published on July 27 that the company’s responses were “tone deaf” and they would work to build a better, safer culture.

Activision Blizzard and T-Mobile both have not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Continue Reading

Activision

Warzone players call for boycott over Blizzard lawsuit and hacking problems

Due to the Blizzard lawsuit and endless hacking, Warzone, and other Call of Duty players, are calling for a boycott of Store purchases.

Published

on

activision blizzard warzone

Warzone players are encouraging all Call of Duty gamers to boycott the purchase of skins and bundles from the store in response to the recent Activision Blizzard lawsuit and constant Warzone hacking.

It’s been an unsettling time for Call of Duty and its respective titles – Warzone, Black Ops Cold War, CoD: Mobile, and Modern Warfare. The ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuit has impacted the franchise, and fans are calling for fellow players to stop buying goods from the CoD store in protest.

This includes everything from skins to Operator Bundles to even the Seasonal Battle Pass. Warzone players are citing the lawsuit, “empty updates,” and hackers as the driving force behind this movement.

activision blizzard headquarters

The lawsuit is dealing directly with an “alleged toxic workplace,” and has even lead to a full walkout by employees in response to the unfortunate situation.

Added to this is the purported series of empty updates “full of microtransactions in order to milk the players,” and the ever-increasing threat of hackers, and players have seemingly had enough.

Reddit user Jaszs has lead the charge by saying: “I’m writing this as someone who has played every. single. COD since COD2, and WZ since day 1 until yesterday, and also a former Blizzard fan. Yes, I know it may sound bad, but based on what’s going on (sexual harassment lawsuit, suppressing and abusive treatment of their employees…) I really think those guys don’t deserve anything from us, their customers.

“You can even keep playing the game if you want (there are some cool alternatives though; if you need some just ask in the comments!), just don’t spend any money in their store. In any case, you should also remember that they are the same guys that are releasing empty updates full of microtransactions in order to milk the players, releasing over and over the same game and not giving a single f*ck about the increasing number of hackers.”

The very passionate statement received over 300 comments and counting, and it’s universally in favor of boycotting Activision’s Store ahead of the Warzone Season 5 launch.

Given that there are many responses, here are a selection of replies:

  • “I’ve got 900 COD points and level 90 on the battle pass. Not spending a penny more on this game. They don’t respect their employees, they don’t respect the players (anti-cheat lmao) they aren’t getting anymore of my money.”
  • “Once all this sh*t came to light, my entire friend group collectively uninstalled the game and swore off of it for good. We were already mad at the game for being poorly managed with hackers and constant glitches/crashes. I suppose this was the lead straw that broke the metaphorical camel’s back.”
  • “Based on the way they’ve handled cheating, the CW integration, and the general state of the game in the last year, I’m shocked than any of you have been buying cosmetic items from them. Do you realize what kind of message you’re sending by making the worst CoD their highest-earning one?”

At the time of writing, the post has nearly 1.8K upvotes and rising. Given the player count of Warzone far exceeds this, it’s hard to imagine this boycott would do too much damage.

Conversely, Producer at Sledgehammer Games Alayna Cole has Tweeted an important message concerning the circumstances.

Boycotting the Activision store will have an obvious knock-on effect in terms of sales revenue, and would ultimately disrupt the salaries and jobs of many employees who are not involved in this lawsuit.

It’s a hard position for all involved and for players who engage in Call of Duty games. The lawsuit is still long ongoing, and we’ll continue to update you at Charlie INTEL with any breaking developments.

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

Continue Reading

Activision

Activision Blizzard employees respond to CEO’s statement: ‘We will not return to silence’

Activision Blizzard employee group responds to CEO Bobby Kotick’s statement, demanding more changes.

Published

on

Activision Blizzard employee organization group has responded to the email CEO Bobby Kotick sent on July 27 over the allegations surfaced from the California state lawsuit.

Kotick stated that the executive team’s initial response was “tone deaf” and vowed to work together with employees on correcting the mishaps after receiving intense backlash from the company’s employees.

The employee group has responded saying that his response failed “to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.”

The statement demands action on the four major points of changes that Activision Blizzard employees want to see, including end of forced arbitration and changes to employee hiring and promotion practices.

It further states that “we will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.”

The statement from the employee group is below, shared by Axios:

On the evening before our employee walkout, Activision Blizzard leadership released a statement apologizing for their harmful responses to last week’s DFEH lawsuit. While we are pleased to see that our collective voices — including an open letter with thousands of signatures from current employees — have convinced leadership to change the tone of their communications, this response fails to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.

Activision Blizzard’s response did not address the following:

The end of forced arbitration for all employees.

Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies.

The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality.

Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.

Today’s walkout will demonstrate that this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore. We will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.

This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.

We expect a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership on the points enumerated above, and look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue on how to build a better Activision Blizzard for all employees.

Today, we stand up for change. Tomorrow and beyond, we will be the change.


Whether Activision Blizzard executives have plans for the above changes remains to be seen. Over 2,600 employees of the company are participating in the Activision Blizzard walkout on July 28, with #ActiBlizzWalkout trending on Twitter.

The movement encourages all employees to not work on July 28 in protest of the company’s executive responses to the lawsuit and allegations.

Continue Reading