The Chinese Ministry of Culture recently posted a notice informing the gaming community that they are enforcing regulations on online gaming corporations. The document focuses on the healthy development of online gaming businesses and seeks to hold corporations responsible for user consumption and the protection of consumer rights. The Ministry of Culture states that the responsibilities of online gaming corporations are “unclear” and do not have the best interests of the consumer in mind. The notice covers issues from a defined gaming network to the regulation of virtual props (items) with an emphasis on the protection of the player.
Disclosing the odds
Many online games like Overwatch or Dota 2 have randomized chests which are items that contain a selection of virtual items inside. These games have an algorithm that determines what item(s) you will receive once you open the chest. The probability of obtaining any randomized item has thus far been undisclosed. The notice created by the Ministry of Culture states that now any online game that includes a chest or item that randomly dispenses items has to disclose the probability of obtaining any item. This means that if I buy a Warhammer: Treasure of the Old World in Dota 2, Valve has to disclose the odds of getting any item before I purchase the treasure. This regulation applies to any online game that has such an item but only in China.
To help the players or the game?
It’s difficult to determine why this set of regulations was created because it’s the first I have come across. It could be that they have the best interests of the players in mind. Opening a chest or treasure has a similar rush to that of gambling. The correlation between treasures or chests in online video games and gambling could be the reason for this new set of laws. China has laws that make it illegal to participate in any form of gambling that is not approved by the Chinese government. These gambling laws apply to physical gambling and to gambling in the online sphere. I think part of the reason the Chinese government has instituted these laws is because they made a connection between gambling and case opening.
I also believe these laws that have been put in place as a reaction to the amount of money that Riot, Valve, and many other online games have made off of its consumers. Valve alone made almost 65 million dollars from the International in 2015 and this money comes solely from users buying their online virtual items. China has restricted gambling to protect its citizens and it is in the best interest of China to protect their citizens online.
You May Like
A message to the Global Community
In comparison to countries like the United States where gambling is legal, it’s hard to look at China’s laws and understand these recent restrictions. While China is not making these chests illegal, their directive will likely reduce how much money these gaming corporations will make off of microtransactions. Placing limitations on gaming entities like Valve, Riot, Hi-Rez, and Blizzard seems bold but I think it’s the right move. There is very little difference between scratching a scratch card in the hopes to win the jackpot and hoping to win the $50 cosmetic that is inside a treasure. Both provide the same thrill and require the same monetary purchase to achieve said thrill.
I have hopes that corporations like Valve, Riot, and many other online gaming entities take advantage of this recent directive and apply it to their games globally. I personally think that China has taken a positive stance on an issue that has thus far gone unchallenged. The only challenge that has occurred publicly is a CS:GO-related lawsuit filed against Valve, which claims that the publisher allows an online gambling market to exist because they profit from its existence.
I’m really excited to see where these new set of laws takes us. I believe that by holding gaming companies accountable for consumer responsibility, China has started a discussion about online consumer ethics. I look forward to seeing where this leads us and how these multi-billion dollar corporations will handle these new laws.