Saturday, December 10, 2016

China to Require Companies to Publish Random Drop Rate Odds

A story has been circulating about China's recent move to begin regulating the way games display information about the drop rates of random loot. This PC Gamer article is a solid source of a summary, and if you want to read the original text it is available here.

I haven't been able to locate a full translation myself but the Google machine translation, plus the chatter floating around the internet, seems to make it clear that a blind box with random items that is available for a virtual currency must display the odds of the player obtaining each of the possible outcomes.

One interesting piece that I picked out is that this will require companies to record and provide actual data to show that the odds are the same as posted.

It will be interesting to see how granular the data must be. If cards are ranked common, rare, epic, and legendary, is displaying those percentages enough? How will the values be assessed? What is stopping a company from making a pool of 10,000 common cards, one of which is essential, and then saying you pull a common 50% of the time? Those odds sound good but really you are looking for the 1 in 10,000 from that 50%.

I'm also curious to see how the tension between virtual and real currency, as well as player selected vs. skill based awards plays out under this regulation. From what I can see from the machine translations, this is looking at cases where a player purchases a virtual currency with real currency and then is able to use that virtual currency to obtain items. But what if that virtual currency is available from in game actions? Additionally, will the extend to things like drop rates from monster kills? What if a game charges you $5 to fight a battle, and the monster can drop one of three possible items on defeat - does this require full explanation under this regulation?