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In response to the loot box controversy that’s flared up in recent weeks, a group of games industry professionals have set up a new body to help inform US government policy on videogames.
How did we get into this mess? Here’s how Battlefront 2’s loot boxes work.
The National Committee for Games Policy (NCGP) call themselves “the world’s first public policy think tank associated with the videogames and interactive entertainment industry.” They differentiate themselves from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in that they are not a group of developers advocating developers’ rights, and are distinct from the UK’s industry associations – TIGA and UKIE – in that their focus is on better outcomes for consumers, rather than more competitive industrial policy.
The NCGP launch with two arms: the ITK, a think tank seeking to inform and educate legislators, and the SRO, the “industry’s first, and de facto, self-regulatory organisation.” The SRO aims to protect consumers from unscrupulous practices by “investigating and bringing legal action against those companies that have damaged the public consciousness in some way.” As part of this goal, the SRO will establish a haven for whistleblowers.
It’s worth noting, however, that the group’s heft seems limited based on their current membership. Bryan Haskell, a project manager at the ESL and former live operations lead on Call of Duty Elite, is the biggest name on their steering committee – otherwise there are few people of note. Three of its seven other members have links with Incuvation Games, a little-known indie publisher, which suggests a parochial buddies’ project rather than the “coalition of high-level industry experts and influencers” they claim to be in their press release.
The steering committee also includes Daniel Doan, founder of Black Shell Games, an indie publisher with a less than spotless reputation. According to one of their clients, writing about a year ago, they sweet-talked them into signing over a cut of their revenue without investing anything in the partnership themselves, after which they failed to promote the game and became uncommunicative. Black Shell say they’ve changed their practices since.
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