Which of the three at least WORKS?
Season pass
69.2% (45)
69.2% (45)
Microtransaction
23.1% (15)
23.1% (15)
Lootboxes
7.7% (5)
7.7% (5)
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Poll: Season pass vs micro transaction vs loot boxes; Which one is SALVAGEABLE?

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Season passes at least feels like you're getting a more tangible thing than microtransactions or lootboxes.

I could stomach any of these except for the loot boxes if it weren't for how they're implemented by corporate assholes.
Season Passes - Well I hate the idea of paying for something sight unseen and I still can't wrap my head around the idea of video games having "seasons" but I suppose it's relatively harmless as long as the DLC is still available outside of the season pass.

Microtransactions - If used to generate revenue for a F2P games and don't give any sort of in-game advantage then I don't have a problem with this. However as it is implemented by AAA Publishers is unacceptable.

Loot Boxes - Unacceptable.

trunkage:

Phoenixmgs:
-Loot boxes: I like loot boxes least of all 3 but even they can be done well enough to reward players for playing the game. The main problem I have with loot boxes is the fact that you can't just pay in-game currency (most of the time) to buy specifically what you want. I thought the loot boxes in Mass Effect 3 would be perfectly fine if I could've just bought what I wanted with in-game credits. I did stop playing the multiplayer of ME3 because of the loot boxes because it was so frustrating trying to unlock new characters via random chance. If I could've just saved up to buy them, it wouldn't have been an issue honestly. Then the loot boxes could be there to try your hand to get something you want on the cheap if you get lucky enough.

I remember being in the top 150 of ME3 multiplayer. I remember seeing the people above me having exponentially higher numbers. I was wondering how they could get so high number as I was literally playing 8hrs a day at minimum. I spent money to catch up. It gave quite a dump in the numbers but clearly people were spending thousands on this. I realised that lootboxes were what is now termed as pay to win. I got out of competitive multiplayer in general because of them. They make the competitive scene pointless.

But what did it matter being top 150 in ME3 multiplayer? As long as you had characters leveled up, which I recall not taking long at all, you can play just fine on the hardest difficulty. The only thing that your character would ever-so-slightly improve at over time is getting more of your primary weapon, which slightly lowers weight of said weapon making your cooldowns very slightly faster. It wasn't crucial for say an Infiltrator to have a level 10 Widow for example, just as long as you had one was fine enough. Some character/class combos didn't even need guns. I quit playing ME3 because I realized I was just playing to earn credits to buy packs so I could possibly get a new character I wanted to try out vs just playing for fun. I never spent any money on packs because of their random nature.

Arnoxthe1:

Phoenixmgs:
-Microtransactions: There's nothing really wrong with someone wanting to fast-forward the grind for a bit of money.

for a bit of money.

That's why it's wrong. Cheat codes used to do the same thing for no money. If people are willing to pay to skip portions of your game then maybe something is very wrong with your game in the first place. But even that aside, there's no excuse for charging for basic cheat code functionality. It's complete shit.

Even in the heyday of cheat codes, you kinda had to pay for the device whether it was a Game Genie, GameShark, Action Replay, etc. If someone wants to play a game in an unintended fashion, why shouldn't a company make some money off that when it's not affecting anyone else? RPGs are intended to start at level 1 and some people will grind in the opening area because they like being OPed, why not allow people to pay to not grind? As long as the game is developed in a normal fashion where progression isn't made slower just to get more microtransaction sales, then I have no problem with it. It is obviously a slippery slope and it can turn bad, really bad as already seen but there is nothing inherently wrong with it. It's sorta like the idea of DLC is perfectly fine, but then pubs/devs started doing on-disc DLC and Day-1 DLC and we start asking if that was just cut content or legit DLC.

Phoenixmgs:
Even in the heyday of cheat codes, you kinda had to pay for the device whether it was a Game Genie, GameShark, Action Replay, etc.

Sorry but this is just wrong. Native cheat codes have been in games since... Doom 95? Most famously, Saints Row 2 had so many hidden cheats in it that mod authors actually ran out of space for theirs when they added more. Morrowind had native cheats. Contra had native cheats. Skyrim had native cheats. Half Life 2 had native cheats. Perfect Dark had native cheats. Timesplitters: Future Perfect had native cheats. Banjo-Kazooie freaking had native cheats.

And even IF that wasn't the case at all, the time it takes to make cheats (practically no time at all) does NOT justify cutting them off from the game and selling them as DLC. At all.

Phoenixmgs:

trunkage:

Phoenixmgs:
-Loot boxes: I like loot boxes least of all 3 but even they can be done well enough to reward players for playing the game. The main problem I have with loot boxes is the fact that you can't just pay in-game currency (most of the time) to buy specifically what you want. I thought the loot boxes in Mass Effect 3 would be perfectly fine if I could've just bought what I wanted with in-game credits. I did stop playing the multiplayer of ME3 because of the loot boxes because it was so frustrating trying to unlock new characters via random chance. If I could've just saved up to buy them, it wouldn't have been an issue honestly. Then the loot boxes could be there to try your hand to get something you want on the cheap if you get lucky enough.

I remember being in the top 150 of ME3 multiplayer. I remember seeing the people above me having exponentially higher numbers. I was wondering how they could get so high number as I was literally playing 8hrs a day at minimum. I spent money to catch up. It gave quite a dump in the numbers but clearly people were spending thousands on this. I realised that lootboxes were what is now termed as pay to win. I got out of competitive multiplayer in general because of them. They make the competitive scene pointless.

But what did it matter being top 150 in ME3 multiplayer? As long as you had characters leveled up, which I recall not taking long at all, you can play just fine on the hardest difficulty. The only thing that your character would ever-so-slightly improve at over time is getting more of your primary weapon, which slightly lowers weight of said weapon making your cooldowns very slightly faster. It wasn't crucial for say an Infiltrator to have a level 10 Widow for example, just as long as you had one was fine enough. Some character/class combos didn't even need guns. I quit playing ME3 because I realized I was just playing to earn credits to buy packs so I could possibly get a new character I wanted to try out vs just playing for fun. I never spent any money on packs because of their random nature.

I had a desire to be in the top 100. I realised that skill allow wouldn't get me there. That moment killed a lot of desire to competitive multiplayer in me.

Before Payday 2 screwed things up, the had something similar. It only was screwed up with microtranactions. The lootboxes weren't the problem, per se. It was the possibility of buying them with real moey

Arnoxthe1:

Phoenixmgs:
Even in the heyday of cheat codes, you kinda had to pay for the device whether it was a Game Genie, GameShark, Action Replay, etc.

Sorry but this is just wrong. Native cheat codes have been in games since... Doom 95? Most famously, Saints Row 2 had so many hidden cheats in it that mod authors actually ran out of space for theirs when they added more. Morrowind had native cheats. Contra had native cheats. Skyrim had native cheats. Half Life 2 had native cheats. Perfect Dark had native cheats. Timesplitters: Future Perfect had native cheats. Banjo-Kazooie freaking had native cheats.

And even IF that wasn't the case at all, the time it takes to make cheats (practically no time at all) does NOT justify cutting them off from the game and selling them as DLC. At all.

I know many games had cheat codes but many more also didn't have cheat codes. Why would such cheat game devices have been so popular if most of the games already had cheats built-in? I'm not going to get mad if pubs/devs ask for a few bucks to play the game in the unintended manner. When something infringes on playing the game as intended, then I will get mad.

Hawki:
They can call work, I guess?

Honestly, the gamete of stuff like microtransactions is too broad to declare what arbitrarily works and what doesn't. Since the OP's question is "what is tolerable for you?" I guess...all of them? If I find it tolerable, I'll engage in the practice. If not, I won't.

Right? This thread may as well have been titled: "Which version of post-launch monetization are you willing to tolerate (i.e. do mental gymnastics to rationalize away) because it exists in a game you like?"

Because, let's be honest with ourselves, most people in here are only going to list as 'acceptable' the methods present in the games they like to play.

That said, I'll vote for microtransactions. In F2P games, there's a clear case for them existing.

And, more over, we already have examples of F2P games using fair models of MTs. For instance: Dota 2.

'Course, we also have examples of F2P (and premium) games using egregiously unfair models of MTs. So, take that as you will.

of the three, microtransactions are most excusable, if only because unlike the other two, the purchaser knows what the hell they are actually getting at checkout. If left to non-gameplay affecting things like cosmetics, they are tolerable.

Season passes are usually entered into with vague promises of future content. Some might be locked on disc, but a lot has yet to be made or finished. Borderlands 2 comes to mind. They can also be nightmarish to package as it may include some content but not other content. Again , BL2

Lootboxes are micro-transactions with the added element of luck, which is essentially a tax on the poor. You know, legitimately gambling. The amount of money wasted on them is insane and the sooner they are classified as gambling fully, the better gaming will be.

runic knight:
Lootboxes are micro-transactions with the added element of luck, which is essentially a tax on the poor. You know, legitimately gambling. The amount of money wasted on them is insane and the sooner they are classified as gambling fully, the better gaming will be.

Loot boxes will never be considered gambling unless you're going to make a bunch of other stuff gambling too; ranging from baseball cards to the claw machine to mystery boxes at cons.

Phoenixmgs:

Arnoxthe1:

Phoenixmgs:
-Microtransactions: There's nothing really wrong with someone wanting to fast-forward the grind for a bit of money.

for a bit of money.

That's why it's wrong. Cheat codes used to do the same thing for no money. If people are willing to pay to skip portions of your game then maybe something is very wrong with your game in the first place. But even that aside, there's no excuse for charging for basic cheat code functionality. It's complete shit.

Even in the heyday of cheat codes, you kinda had to pay for the device whether it was a Game Genie, GameShark, Action Replay, etc. If someone wants to play a game in an unintended fashion, why shouldn't a company make some money off that when it's not affecting anyone else? RPGs are intended to start at level 1 and some people will grind in the opening area because they like being OPed, why not allow people to pay to not grind? As long as the game is developed in a normal fashion where progression isn't made slower just to get more microtransaction sales, then I have no problem with it. It is obviously a slippery slope and it can turn bad, really bad as already seen but there is nothing inherently wrong with it. It's sorta like the idea of DLC is perfectly fine, but then pubs/devs started doing on-disc DLC and Day-1 DLC and we start asking if that was just cut content or legit DLC.

Cheat devices like the Game Genie, Game Shark, Action Replay etc. were 3rd party and could often break the game and not in a good way.

Season Passes - This one is kind of innocent, really. Pre-order your DLC, and get a discount. Seems reasonable enough to me. The issue comes with the fact that most people don't buy map packs, anyway, so games just tend to revert back to the vanilla content after the honeymoon period, and trying to find a server with DLC content is basically a minigame in and of itself.

Another problem is when the devs put out a season pass, but don't explain what the future content is going to look like. Halo Wars 2 had a season pass, and it said it would "include additional campaign content", which ended up being a mini 3-mission side story. They then went on to release the Awakening the Nightmare expansion, that was, of course, outside of the season pass.

Microtransactions - Little tidbits of content. Buy what you want. So long as it is cosmetic only, I don't have an issue with these, but just like lootboxes, they can be abused to be P2W, and that is where the problem lies.

A lot of companies have sense, and just do cosmetic stuff. That is A-OK in my book. Cosmetics aren't required, but are cool little ways to invest in your character.

Lootboxes - "Pay the same as a microtransaction, and you will get something! Spend $99 for our best value pack!". I don't actually mind loot boxes all that much. I like random. The problem is with the drop rates, and it really abuses people with completionist complexes.

Heroes of the Storm does lootboxes pretty great. You get a lootbox everytime you level up a hero, and that encourages you to experiment with new characters. I have never felt like I need to buy lootboxes, and the drops are cosmetic, free heroes, or XP boots.

Conclusion - None of these options are "bad", but all can be abused by greedy devs. Personally, I would rather have microtransactions and lootboxes that I can avoid paying for, and get the more meaningful content for free, instead of paying for the privilege of getting more content that nobody plays - though this is multiplayer only.

As for lootboxes vs microtransactions. Frankly, I think I prefer the boxes, because they can usually be earned for free, in-game. It all comes down to the drop rates, though. Something like Overwatch is just too slow, but HotS hits the nail on the head.

So long as the boxes are cosmetic only, I don't really mind them, but they are the lesser of two other evils.

Conclusion Part 2 - That being said, I do still believe that adding in F2P payment models into AAA games is insulting and greedy. And can we just shine a torch onto games like Shadow of War that double-dip with both lootboxes and season passes? I mean please.

Jeroenr:

Avnger:
I voted lootboxes because as long as they are kept in game and not connected to any kind of microtransaction or real world money, they're not really any different than any other type of RNG loot in games. I mean look at Horizon: Zero Dawn, for example; it has lootboxes but because they're entirely tied into the game world, they're completely harmless and no different than the randomized chests or randomized loot taken from the dead robosauruses (other than the extra menu steps).

In that case i would prefer the random drop/chest, because those stay in the flow of the game.
As for lootboxes, those are as immersive as a Car comercial during a Game of Thrones episode.

What is a lootbox (when handled well) other than a random chest you're given instead of sitting on the floor?

sgy0003:

So out of these three, which is tolerable to you?

i choose option 4. Free DLC.

I was about to say Season Passes, but you aren't even guaranteed to get all the DLC after buying a huge season pass. You could get 2 or 3 lame ones you wouldn't have paid for anyway, and then they still churn out more content and skins and want more money.

Of the three, I'll go with regular microtransactions, if only because they make F2P games possible. Season passes and lootboxes both have the same fundamental flaw: You're paying up-front without being able to see the goods.

Ender910:
I'd prefer a return to fully complete expansion packs, personally. Not likely to happen, but I almost never felt cheated by a proper expansion, and actually have fond memories of most of the games where I ended up getting one.

IE, much of the Total War series, Mechwarrior, Red Alert, Crysis Warhead, Heroes of Might and Magic series, Neverwinter Nights (1 and 2), Mysteries of the Sith, Red Orchestra 2: Rising Storm, Titan Quest (Immortal Throne), etc etc.

Alternatively though, on the business side of things, maybe if AAA devs would... stop pumping out garbage titles at such frequent intervals we'd actually see some better quality, quality worth a slightly higher baseline price tag. I'd much rather have fewer games that I actually genuinely enjoy rather than a buttload of games that I couldn't bother playing for longer than an hour or two.

Agreed. Expansion packs on PC back in the early 00's were great and there are still some "DLC's" that you could easily label as full on expansion packs today (Witcher 3, RDR, GTA IV: TL&TD and TBOGT) but such generous DLC is rare in the industry. I'm not really a fan of DLC overall but I especially hate the practice of actually announcing/presenting DLC in advance of even the base game being released. That to me is the dev/publisher saying "we are releasing an incomplete game to you. You can pay more for the rest at a later time". This is jarring to me.

* Season pass can work if you are sure you will actually still be playing (or even like the base game) by the time the content comes out. I guess that's for the individual to decide if it's worth it. I'm fine with it as long as it does not completely split the playerbase. I'm also curious to see what will happen the first time a big-release game with "upcoming DLC" gets said DLC cancelled due to flop sales or developer shut down. How much faith will people will have with season passes if (when?) this happens.

Similar to season pass is episodic content (eg: Hitman). This I can live with as i'll simply wait for the "complete season" or "game of the year" edition to release before I consider buying. Just as I do with the beta/early access stuff (I dont but incomplete games or demos). Unless it's something that I will miss out on, or fall too far behind on, by waiting of course (eg: a multiplayer). In such cases, I'll probably not get.

* Microtransactions. Again, if it does not interfere with the competitive aspect on Multiplayer (ie: Better guns/cars/ships/characters than a non-paying player) and is instead just cosmetic or for single player campaigns, i'm fine if folks want to waste their money on such things. I would prefer if it was available to earn in-game too (without excessive grinding)

* Loot boxes. These I simply dont get the appeal of except for maybe the "gambling rush". I certainly dont welcome the resale of such things. And like Microtransactions and season passes, I would expect that people that do not waste their money on such things are not left behind or seperated like some sort of leper colony.

Season Passes/DLC are basically expansions. Yes, some companies like to "spread out" content into expansions leaving a barren base game. In such a scenario, they are basically short changing you and I suggest you do not buy the game if you think you aren't getting value for your money.

Microtransations (MTXs), these "violate" the concept of the game. They are effectively selling in-game rewards. Instead of playing for them, you pay them. It creates an "uneven playing field" where your game experience depends on how much money you have.

Many people play games to escape from the inequalities of real life. MTXs just brings RL inequality into the game.

There is a difference between selling game content (stuff that is playable) like expansions and selling in-game rewards (stuff that isn't playable) like a stupid hat.

Loot boxes are just MTXs with a gambling mechanic to prey on people's susceptibility to operant conditioning with a variable ratio schedule - i.e. it's pretty much gambling in all but name.

Microtransactions are fine

You know what you are getting, even if it is in small chunks

Season passes are BIG gambles, you don't know what you are getting, and companies have been being complete fucking assholes and releasing things but NOT including them in the season pass because fuck you consumers.

Lootboxes combine the worst of both, they are small chunks that you have no idea what will pop out, and fuck you if you don't get what you want.

Microtransactions can work in a game that's expanding or changing in some way. The point being, the game needs to justify the player's continued investment in other ways: updates, free content, etc. They have to be done in moderation, and the content should be somehow obtainable through in-game means.

(Paid) Lootboxes are functionally identical to gambling, and shouldn't exist.

Season Passes demand way too much unearned trust. They shouldn't exist, either. People should only pay when they actually know what they're getting; anything else is an open door to a shoddy, imbalanced consumer relationship.

Phoenixmgs:

runic knight:
Lootboxes are micro-transactions with the added element of luck, which is essentially a tax on the poor. You know, legitimately gambling. The amount of money wasted on them is insane and the sooner they are classified as gambling fully, the better gaming will be.

Loot boxes will never be considered gambling unless you're going to make a bunch of other stuff gambling too; ranging from baseball cards to the claw machine to mystery boxes at cons.

I see no problem with that. Forcing people selling you stuff to actually tell you what you are buying seems like it would be a good thing. All are a form of gambling, so treating them as such (especially with regard to how they can market and who can gamble based on age) seems like something beneficial to consumers overall. Blindbags and other such lootboxes are designed to milk people for money after all by making the things more often sought far less likely, so you buy more. The entire system is inherently predatory and anticonsumer.

Claw machines are an exception though, as that is not a matter of luck or the purchase being unaware what you get. You see clearly what you can get, it is merely a matter of skill to get it.

runic knight:

Phoenixmgs:

runic knight:
Lootboxes are micro-transactions with the added element of luck, which is essentially a tax on the poor. You know, legitimately gambling. The amount of money wasted on them is insane and the sooner they are classified as gambling fully, the better gaming will be.

Loot boxes will never be considered gambling unless you're going to make a bunch of other stuff gambling too; ranging from baseball cards to the claw machine to mystery boxes at cons.

I see no problem with that. Forcing people selling you stuff to actually tell you what you are buying seems like it would be a good thing. All are a form of gambling, so treating them as such (especially with regard to how they can market and who can gamble based on age) seems like something beneficial to consumers overall. Blindbags and other such lootboxes are designed to milk people for money after all by making the things more often sought far less likely, so you buy more. The entire system is inherently predatory and anticonsumer.

Claw machines are an exception though, as that is not a matter of luck or the purchase being unaware what you get. You see clearly what you can get, it is merely a matter of skill to get it.

Lootboxes are actually WORSE than gambling. At a poker table, I KNOW the amount I'm risking in the pot, but I also KNOW exactly what I stand to win with my risk. Lootboxes are risking real money while having no idea what you stand to "win." Of course, you might know what you may win (and more sinisterly, you probably hope to win something specific which is what the lootbox mechanic preys upon,) but you never KNOW what you're buying.

I'm currently playing a mobile game called Mini Golf King. When you start, you've got a beginner's set of clubs; through winning, you earn "chests" (aka: lootboxes) that contain cards which unlock new clubs and balls (of various rarities) at their starting levels. To upgrade them, you must continue earning chests, find enough cards of the same club, then pay an amount of coins to upgrade it, i.e.: I found a nice iron and had to find it randomly in chests 10 more times before I could then pay 1,600 coins to upgrade to level 2. This is bullshit; I can't outright "buy" the clubs I like at all, even for real money, but I can buy as many random chests as I like in the hopes I get the cards for the clubs I like. OR, I can buy gold bars for real money, gold bars which is the only currency you can use to buy coins which is the currency used to play the game in the form of entry fees... Yeah, as much as I enjoy playing this game, it will never see a fucking DIME from me. Why should it?!? I know what I want, I know what I like, but all it can afford me for the money it's willing to milk from my withered teat is a CHANCE to give me what I want? Fuck right two hells off.

runic knight:

Phoenixmgs:

runic knight:
Lootboxes are micro-transactions with the added element of luck, which is essentially a tax on the poor. You know, legitimately gambling. The amount of money wasted on them is insane and the sooner they are classified as gambling fully, the better gaming will be.

Loot boxes will never be considered gambling unless you're going to make a bunch of other stuff gambling too; ranging from baseball cards to the claw machine to mystery boxes at cons.

I see no problem with that. Forcing people selling you stuff to actually tell you what you are buying seems like it would be a good thing. All are a form of gambling, so treating them as such (especially with regard to how they can market and who can gamble based on age) seems like something beneficial to consumers overall.

At least, in the US, there would be far too much lobbying to have such a bill get passed due to how many different industries it would affect. Even those sticker vending machines are basically gambling hoping to get a sticker of your favorite sports team or character from your favorite show or whatever.

I don't mind any of them as long as they stay in free to play games.

When they make games pay to win i laugh and give them nothing. When the microtransactions are for cosmetic stuff i laugh and wonder what difference it makes and don't buy them. When a reward for playing is random i get bored quickly and move on. Season passes turn into game of the year later so why rush to prepay for a thing that isn't made yet when i can sit back risk free and buy the game and content at a later date when it's fully finished and the price is vastly reduced?

Xprimentyl:

runic knight:

Phoenixmgs:

Loot boxes will never be considered gambling unless you're going to make a bunch of other stuff gambling too; ranging from baseball cards to the claw machine to mystery boxes at cons.

I see no problem with that. Forcing people selling you stuff to actually tell you what you are buying seems like it would be a good thing. All are a form of gambling, so treating them as such (especially with regard to how they can market and who can gamble based on age) seems like something beneficial to consumers overall. Blindbags and other such lootboxes are designed to milk people for money after all by making the things more often sought far less likely, so you buy more. The entire system is inherently predatory and anticonsumer.

Claw machines are an exception though, as that is not a matter of luck or the purchase being unaware what you get. You see clearly what you can get, it is merely a matter of skill to get it.

Lootboxes are actually WORSE than gambling. At a poker table, I KNOW the amount I?m risking in the pot, but I also KNOW exactly what I stand to win with my risk. Lootboxes are risking real money while having no idea what you stand to ?win.? Of course, you might know what you may win (and more sinisterly, you probably hope to win something specific which is what the lootbox mechanic preys upon,) but you never KNOW what you?re buying.

I?m currently playing a mobile game called Mini Golf King. When you start, you?ve got a beginner?s set of clubs; through winning, you earn ?chests? (aka: lootboxes) that contain cards which unlock new clubs and balls (of various rarities) at their starting levels. To upgrade them, you must continue earning chests, find enough cards of the same club, then pay an amount of coins to upgrade it, i.e.: I found a nice iron and had to find it randomly in chests 10 more times before I could then pay 1,600 coins to upgrade to level 2. This is bullshit; I can?t outright ?buy? the clubs I like at all, even for real money, but I can buy as many random chests as I like in the hopes I get the cards for the clubs I like. OR, I can buy gold bars for real money, gold bars which is the only currency you can use to buy coins which is the currency used to play the game in the form of entry fees? Yeah, as much as I enjoy playing this game, it will never see a fucking DIME from me. Why should it?!? I know what I want, I know what I like, but all it can afford me for the money it?s willing to milk from my withered teat is a CHANCE to give me what I want? Fuck right two hells off.

Most loot boxes do list the possible items inside and the chance of getting them. It is usually buried in fine print, but there. In that regard, I would say improving upon that so you know the exact odds and exact possibilities clearly would be important if they want to keep the system.

Mobile games are by and large trash. Skinner boxes designed to siphon money out of kid's pockets. Majority of the free app games are that way. The loss of 95% of them would only make the app store cleared of all the copycats and outright scam games.

Phoenixmgs:

runic knight:

Phoenixmgs:

Loot boxes will never be considered gambling unless you're going to make a bunch of other stuff gambling too; ranging from baseball cards to the claw machine to mystery boxes at cons.

I see no problem with that. Forcing people selling you stuff to actually tell you what you are buying seems like it would be a good thing. All are a form of gambling, so treating them as such (especially with regard to how they can market and who can gamble based on age) seems like something beneficial to consumers overall.

At least, in the US, there would be far too much lobbying to have such a bill get passed due to how many different industries it would affect. Even those sticker vending machines are basically gambling hoping to get a sticker of your favorite sports team or character from your favorite show or whatever.

You aren't entirely wrong, but I think a middle ground could be easily found with regard to physical versus digital content just based on the fact that at the end of the day, the 20$ skin you bought is not yours (it is on the server, you only have access to using it, and once the server goes off, you no longer have access to it) where as that 1$ sticker is physically yours for as long as you wish to keep it.

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