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Friday, May 14, 2021


Home Business & Finance Loot boxes in games are enticing, but they don’t actually manipulate you...

Loot boxes in games are enticing, but they don’t actually manipulate you into spending

Document Analysis NLP IA


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Summary (IA Generated)

The ABC’s latest Four product“>Corners report is an investigation into how video games are “deliberately designed to get people hooked”.

The process of monetizing and collecting data through video games does require scrutiny, as it can be problematic for some users.

Video game production is increasingly supported by collecting large amounts of player data.

Game developers use this data to optimize game design and, perhaps more commonly, how games are monetized.

Only the biggest game designers could afford in-house software engineers to create these systems, and data analysts to use them.

Data analytics suites are a core feature of game development software, are offered by tech giants such as Amazon and are also sold by standalone analytics providers such as GameAnalytics.

The shift to freemium play, encouraged by smartphone platforms, has made it particularly important to collect data on in-app purchasing.

In turn, this can help game developers to determine which players are more likely to spend money while playing, and how to optimize the placement of in-game ads — a major source of revenue in freemium games.

The software Game of Whales — named after the industry’s practice of calling big spenders “whales” — claims to use AI to track players’ behaviour in real-time and interact with them in a way that maximises “lifetime value”, which is the total amount of revenue a player will generate while playing a game.

These tools are framed as allowing both large and smaller developers to create conditions which increase player spending.

For example, they might minimize ads and encourage increased playing time for a high-value “whale”, while providing more ads for users who are unlikely to make in-app purchases.

This is the subset of the gaming industry that frames itself as being able to “control” players through data analytics.

However, while analytics companies would suggest their products work as promised, we lack scholarly evidence that data capture allows video game companies to control our minds or our wallets.

As critics of Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff’s surveillance capitalismtheory would argue, just because game companies collect our data, that doesn’t mean they can automatically control how we behave.

Research on how developers use data analytics reflects this ambivalence.

One study of French video game company Ubisoft, and its use of data, suggests data collection “augments” (or enhances) products, rather than necessarily manipulating users into continued spending via microtransactions.

The recent Four Corners report frames the gaming industry as a largely manipulative one.

Many of the mobile and freemium games discussed in the Four Corners report are designed for children who do need greater protection since, according to some psychologists, they don’t “comprehend commercial messages in the same way as more mature audiences”.

In part, concerns about spending in games can be attributed to parents and non-players misunderstanding how virtual goods can actually have real value for players.

A helpful strategy could be for parents to discuss with their kids what it means to spend real money on virtual goods and why they want to.

Although, the way some games target whales to encourage unlimited spending is a source of genuine concern.

When it comes to monetizing responsibly, game platforms and developers both have a role to play.