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.
Activision granted patent that allows players to share Call of Duty loadouts
Activision has been granted a patent that the team filed in 2019 in references to sharing loadouts in a multiplayer video game via online social networks. The patent was granted to Activision officially on November 17, 2020.
The inventor of the patent is: David Vonderhaar. The studio design director at Treyarch.
The patent was originally filed on September 16, 2019. It’s called “Systems and methods for customizing weapons and sharing customized weapons via social networks,” according to the US Patent Office.
The main premise of this patent is to build an engine that will allow “one or more other players of the multiplayer video game” to share their custom loadouts “via at least one social network such that the one or more other players can utilize the customized weapon configuration during a gameplay session.”
This patent details every single portion of the weapon that Call of Duty considers and tracks in implementing them into the game. It looks at “weapon performance attributes, weapon appearance attributes, weapon performance statistics, and player performance statistics.”
The massive part of this patent is the sharing aspect, which is something that could change Call of Duty and add a new layer to the social experience of the franchise.
As reported by PCGamer, this new patent details how players could control who can see and use their loadouts. The patent explains that loadouts can be shared. It talks about customized weapon configuration and details how they can dictate the share controls.
“A player may further specify that he or she wishes to make a customized weapon configuration available for gameplay by one or more other players. In some implementations, a user may specify that a customized weapon configuration and/or some or all of the foregoing information be made available to all players, or a subset of players including, but not limited to, friends (or followers), or team members, or other groups of players.”
Another massive part of the patent is about how players can share the loadouts. In detail, the patent describes a new engine that goes in depth to allow players to share loadouts on social media platforms, within the game itself, and more.
This new engine will “enable a player to share weapon configurations, information about weapon configurations, and/or gameplay statistics internally (or in-game) via, for example, an in-game social network or a game publisher-centric social network accessible in-game by game players. Additionally or alternatively [it will enable players to share] via one or more external social networks (e.g., Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, etc.). In one implementation of the invention, the sharing engine may enable a player to transmit communications (e.g., email messages, text messages, or other electronic communications) that include hyperlinks or other selectable graphical user interface objects that enable recipients to access the shared information.”
This detailed patent also allows players to include messages and/or details when sharing said loadouts. Players can include “personalized text, graphics, pictures, audio, video, or other multimedia” as part of their share experience.
Lastly, the new patent describes how players could potentially issue challenges when sharing their loadouts, and then allow others to complete or best those challenges.
“The sharing engine may further enable a player to issue challenges to one or more other video game players to obtain or exceed certain player performance statistics, weapon usage statistics, or ratings, and/or achieve other objectives using a given weapon configuration.”
It says there’s a “Challenge Interface” that could be built allowing players to track and advance their challenges within the game’s engine.
This would be a significant new portion to the social experience for Call of Duty, if implemented. Do note that is a patent, and patent’s don’t always end up in products immediately or in the near future. It could take some time for players to see a real in-game experience of this feature. But it’s quite interesting to see the level to which Activision can take the social experience of Call of Duty especially with Warzone and free to play experiences.
How to enable two factor authentication on your Call of Duty Account
Protect your account now!
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.
Modern Warfare is now the best selling Call of Duty in its first year
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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