Weekend Whammy: UK Government On Lootboxes, Borderlands 3 & Greedfall

It’s not the weekend! And do you know what that means, my friends? That’s right, it’s time for another Weekend Whammy because as we all know I have no concept of punctuality or time in general. It’s a flaw. But anyway, this week we’re chatting about the UK government’s report on loot boxes, Borderlands 3 and Greedfall being weird.

First, a little update on the crowd funding campaign I’ve been running to support my friend with terminal cancer. We’ve so far raised over £300 and the story has appeared on iNews, who interviewed Jacqui: https://inews.co.uk/news/real-life/cancer-benefits-dwp-mother-months-to-live-universal-credit-mix-up/

More importantly, thanks to the campaign the DWP have apologized for their cock-up and waived the near £10,000 they claimed she owned them. Now we just need to get the rest of the crazy benefit system sorted out and she may actually be able to live out the remainder of her time on this planet without having to panic about debts and tribunals. So if you can spare a few pennies please do consider donating by going to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-a-terminal-cancer-patient

Right, on to the regularly schedule programming. Just one review this week, but it was of the rather brilliant Gears 5. Microsoft have gotten pummelled this generation by both Sony and Nintendo in terms of exclusives, so Gears 5 is especially important. With that said, is it too late in the console cycle for an exclusive to shift more consoles? I can’t say much, mind you, since I bought a PS4 just last year because of Marvel’s Spider-Man.

But Gears 5 is certainly the poster-child for the Gamespass service. Apparently it’s gotten a huge amount of downloads, and presumably a whole bunch of new customers signed up for the gaming equivalent of Netflix to play it, even if they’re just jumping in for a month. Sadly like Netflix it seems Gamespass might have a problem in the form of every other company wanting a piece of the pie and setting up their own similar services. We’re already seeing it with the likes of Ubisoft.

This week saw the anticipated release of Borderlands 3 and I’ve been sinking some serious hours into the looting-shooting game from Gearbox. A lot of reviews mentioned that it was a pretty safe sequel that felt more like Borderlands 2.5, and honestly…yeah, they were right. It’s more like a refinement of Borderlands 2, at least in terms of the gameplay mechanics. I would have liked to have seen more steps made toward truly evolving the series, but I’m still happy just to have more Borderlands action.

Seems like a lot of people are having problems with the game, though. Borderlands 3 is an Epic store exclusive on PC, and since Epic don’t have any forums on their store people have invaded the Borderlands 2 forums over on Steam to discuss the game, report problems and find potential solutions. I’ve not run into many issues myself, but it’s clear that the game does need some polish.

And as for Greedfall my early impressions are mixed, to say the least. I like the focus on dialogue with many missions playing out within any real action. I’m enjoying the acting and the writing and the world, too. But I’m not enjoying the clumsy combat or the fact that in a game where vast amounts of time are spent staring at people speaking there is atrocious lip syncing.

One part in particular of Greedfall did make me laugh. In opening sequence of the game you face down a giant monster (pictured) that nobody has seen before. You and your party are shocked, and the ensuing fight is actually reasonably fun. But as soon as the monster is dead, everyone carries on like nothing happened. They all seem to forget the giant, strange beast and continue on as if the entire event had not occurred. It was hilarious.

Some good news arrived this week as the House of Commons released a report on immersive technologies, part of which was dedicated to loot boxes within video games. The report was quite damning of loot boxes and put forward that they should be regulated in the same way as gambling, and that children should not be able to access them. The report also noted that the games industry had been “wilfully obtuse” when it came to answering questions about the subject. The report mentioned also talked about how it had been almost impossible to get clear answers from representatives of the gaming industry in regard to the types of data being collected, how it was used and the psychology of game design. While the report doesn’t name any specific names it’s hard not to imagine this is a direct response to the laughable behaviour of EA when it was called to stand before the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee. Y’know, that time when EA attempted to call loot boxes “surpise mechanics” and liken them to Kinder Eggs.

EA themselves have actually responded to the report in a rather lacklustre way, saying that, “We have reviewed and are closely considering the findings of the DCMS Committee report.  While we don’t agree with all of the conclusions and recommendations in the report, we do take our responsibilities to players of all ages very seriously.” 

“We have an ongoing commitment to player safety and well-being whenever they are playing our games or engaging in our communities.  We will continue to look at how we can contribute to productive research and solutions for the topics raised in this report, and we look forward to continuing our ongoing dialogue with the UK government.”

That’s some fine corporate speech, that. Still, it’s nice to see the loot box issue being taken seriously. I’m not wholly against the idea of loot boxes, but I’d certainly like to see them inaccessible in children’s games at the very least.

Anyway, that’s all for this week folks. Have a good ‘un.


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