Esports & Gaming News

Video game loot boxes should be classed as gambling, says Commons (The Guardian)

  • A House of Commons committee has advised that loot boxes should be regulated as gambling and banned for children.
  • The recommendation features as part of the DCMS report on immersive and addictive technologies and states that games featuring loot boxes that are paid for with real money (as opposed to earned as in-game rewards) should be marked as containing gambling and age-rated accordingly.
  • The report also touched on the concerning rise of deepfake videos, urging the government to include them as part of the duty of care principles for social media firms laid out in the online harms white paper.

Analysis and Comments

  • The most obviously impacted franchise would be EA’s FIFA, as Ultimate Team would presumably be captured by this proposal.
  • While not a helpful line for the broader industry, the regulatory overhang regarding loot boxes is not really news. Loot boxes are already banned in Belgium, which has resulted in several games being pulled from the market (as the only alternative would have been to obtain a gambling license).
  • In this case, the effectiveness of the measures will presumably be determined by their enforcement, as the rules could be easily flouted if parents or other adults allow their bank details to be used for under 18 year olds to purchase these type of features.
  • The country’s gaming trade body (UK Interactive Entertainment) said they would review the recommendations and “consult with the industry on how we demonstrate further our commitment to player safety – especially concerning minors and vulnerable people”. The government said it “will consider the committee’s report carefully before responding”.

Overwatch League, Nielsen Release AMA Viewership Data (The Esports Observer)

  • After entering a deal in April 2018, Activision Blizzard and Nielsen have now released viewership figures (average-minute-audience) on the Overwatch League (OWL) for the first time.
  • The data compares digital streams last year vs. digital streams and linear broadcast this year, showing that the OWL averaged 313k viewers globally and 95k in the US, an annual increase of 18% and 34% increase, respectively.
  • Notably, the median age of OWL is 24, which according to Nielsen data is far younger than the other leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, the PGA Tour, and college football and basketball) which underscores the reach/impact esports have with younger demographics.

Analysis and Comments

  • The viewership figures are the most important metric when assessing an esport’s success; however, because companies and the media often provide different types of viewership figures with poor context, it is often unclear what thesenumbers actually mean.
  • As a result, streaming viewership is still often difficult to compare with traditional TV ratings, and previous attempts to do so have inflated the success of esports in problematic ways.
  • Activision Blizzard’s partnership with Nielsen is a big step in the right direction in establishing more usable and consistent metrics that will help better inform investors’ decisions (and will give them more confidence in the data).
  • Nielsen has been steadily growing its presence in the space and signed a deal with Riot Games earlier this year to measure League of Legends’ esports viewership – something we view as an exciting development as League is the world’s largest esport and has recently started introducing the franchise model to its national leagues as well.  
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