GTA, Red Dead Company Responds To Loot Box Controversy

Take-Two, the parent company of GTA and Red Dead developer Rockstar Games, has responded to the recent controversy surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions. Speaking today during a Credit Suisse event, Take-Two president Karl Slatoff said the company doesn’t view loot boxes as gambling. The executive said Take-Two’s view is the same as what the Entertainment Software Association said earlier this year when it released a statement plainly stating that loot boxes “are not gambling.”

“We don’t view that thing as gambling,” Slatoff said of loot box mechanics. “Our view of it is the same as the ESA statement for the most part; so [potential legislation is] going to play its course.”

There has been much discussion around loot boxes of late, bubbling over in the wake of how Star Wars: Battlefront II used them before significant changes were made. In China, the odds for loot boxes in Overwatch (and other titles) are disclosed, and some lawmakers want something similar to happen in the United States. Slatoff acknowledged the consumer feedback around loot boxes and microtransactions, but said as long as the transaction feels fair to the consumer around what they spend and what they get, there is no problem.

“In terms of the consumer–the noise you hear in the market right now–it’s all about content and over-delivering on content,” Slatoff said. “It’s about making making sure you’re focused on engagement, and I think that has been our strategy; that has been our focus. And as long you keep your eye on that ball, you’re going to be okay. The consumer’s going to be really happy with what they get.”

Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer mode for GTA V, has been a massive success when it comes to the revenue it makes from microtransactions. In fact, the mode recently had its best quarter ever in terms of microtransaction revenue, a notable achievement considering the game launched more than four years ago.

Slatoff went on to say that it’s all about creating compelling content. If what’s for sale is compelling enough and priced appropriately, consumers will flock to it, he said.

“Yeah, you can’t force the consumer to do anything,” Slatoff said. “You try your best to create the best experience you possibly you can to drive engagement, and driving engagement creates value in franchises. That’s how it’s always been and how it always will be.”

For lots more on the subject of loot boxes and gambling, check out GameSpot’s newest episode of The Dive. In the episode, we spoke with psychology professor Ronald Riggio and psychologist Jamie Madigan about the affects gambling has on our minds and the concepts that make us feel better about spending money. We also talked about how these might apply to loot boxes and ask them both whether they feel Battlefront II and Overwatch’s systems could constitute gambling.

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