Can California handle recreational Cannabis?

Following a trend of progressive change throughout the country, California recently passed the legalization of recreational marijuana. Going into effect starting in 2018, any person over the age of 21 can legally buy marijuana. The $7 billion industry is expected to generate over $1 billion in state tax revenue.

However, per the federal government, marijuana remains a schedule 1 narcotic (the same level as heroin). Since the federal government is responsible for regulating banks and interstate commerce, there is a significant barrier to banking services for people in the cannabis industry. It is considered a crime to handle the financial proceeds from marijuana sales—banks can lose accreditation or even face money laundering charges.

There are obvious implications that stem from the lack of safe financial structures for the cannabis industry in states where the sale is legal. The irony of this industry is that it is essentially the only business that is begging to be regulated, as regulation will create safety for everyone involved in the transaction.

  • Dangerous
    • With hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash being mulled around in duffel bags and cars presents a high risk for crime and theft. Armored vehicles and security guards are a necessity.
  • Inefficient
  • The laborious counting of stacks of cash for paying taxes is slow and inefficient—it requires the tax collectors to use more time and people bring backpacks full of cash to bank and takes time
  • With a cash-only system, it is difficult to pay employees and write checks

John Chiang & the Cannabis Banking Working Group

To brainstorm solutions to this problem, California State Treasurer John Chiang created a task force coalition, the Cannabis Banking Working Group (CBWG), with representatives from law enforcement, banks, regulators, and local governments. The goal is “to ensure a safe a smooth transition for the public, businesses and financial institutions” in the “unchartered waters” of legal recreational marijuana. The coalition has met several times in the past year and recently published a report on possible solutions to marijuana and banking in California.

Solution 1: State Courier Service

Under this plan, “the money would come to the state and the would be the party that would interact with the banks”. Armored vehicles would pick up cash from marijuana businesses and then transport those tax dollars to a secure counting facility. The cash would then be taken to either a federal reserve facility or a financial institution willing to “accept the cash as deposits to state accounts.”

Solution 2: Adhere to lenient existing laws

 Support and expand the few small banks that followed strict compliance guidelines that allowed for business with the marijuana industry under Obama’s U.S. Deputy Attorney General.

Solution 3: Public Bank

The creation of a publicly owned bank or state-supported financial institution. Public banks are independent of the federal reserve, and are insured by the state. This idea, that has been gaining popularity since public dissatisfaction with Wall Street and big banks, may also reap other benefits. Such a bank could expand banking to underserved groups beyond the cannabis industry. However, the obstacles are formidable:

  • Difficulty of getting deposit insurance
  • Unknown start-up costs
  • Investment likely to measure in the billions of dollars
  • Probability of losses for several years or more that taxpayers would have to cover
  • In addition, a public cannabis institution might have trouble obtaining federal regulatory approval and access to Federal Reserve money transfer systems.

Solution 4:  Lofty Federal Goals

  1. Provide legal safe harbor to financial institutions, by prohibiting federal prosecutors or regulators from penalizing them for serving cannabis customers that comply with state law.
  2. Legalize cannabis by taking it off the list of Schedule I controlled substances.
  3. Prohibit federal officials from prosecuting cannabis consumers or businesses in states that have approved medical or adult recreational use.



Behavioral Economics

Humans do not actually behave according to economists’ thought processes. Classic economics assume that humans are perfectly rational beings, who are all-informed and have infinite calculating abilities. In such a world, where people have concrete preferences and act in isolated events, advertising would not need to exist. This is because people would be certain in their preferences and unable to be swayed by ads.

In 2016, $190 billion was spent on advertising in the United States, so clearly, the real world has a need for advertising. That’s where behavioral economics come into play. Behavioral science–at the intersection of economics and psychology–assumes that people are not rational or capable of making decisions in their best interest (Freakonomics). In reality, most people make decisions using their emotions as the deciding factor either equally as much or more often than they use reason.

In this world of incomplete information, independent actors (people) must infer from others or situations with more complete information. Their safest bet is often to copy what the people around them are doing. The academic term for this is social norming, which in lay man’s terms means peer pressure.

A big reason for this herd mentality is something called loss aversion. Loss aversion is a concept explaining that people experience greater emotion (pain) with loss, than the emotion (pleasure) they experience with gains of proportional size. So in simplified terms, people hate giving stuff up, even if said stuff has little to no value to them. They want to mitigate their losses, and one way of doing this is by making decisions that other people have already made which weren’t catastrophically bad.

Behavioral economics takes into account these factors playing into decisions that real, irrational individuals make. It’s a study of the “codification of behavioral anomalies” which economists establish using empirical evidence (Forbes). Consumers frame their personal economic outcomes as gains and losses, which affects their economic decisions and choices. Behavioral economics examines this framing.

Advertising is an industry that has been using behavioral economics to its advantage long before the area of study was formally established. The industry manipulates the emotions of consumers in a way, changing their preferences, which contrary to standard economics beliefs, are not concrete. Like social norming, people pick well-known brands because they figure they’re less likely to be catastrophically bad than the alternative.

One tactic some advertisers use is the creation of scarcity. Limited edition, limited time only, etc., labeled products construct an artificial scarcity, driving humans to take action. They buy the product right then and there instead of waiting. Companies and advertisers exploit this scarcity bias in consumers as an effort to sell more products.

Advertisers and ad agencies rely on data to help manipulate their audiences. This collection of data calls for a new area of academia–this time in the field of ethics. Where is the line drawn? If voluntary data collection is okay, what about involuntary? How do these ethical issues converge with those of digital data collection as seen by Google, Facebook, etc?


The Impact of Redlining

In early 1930s, Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal to reduce the down payment required to buy a house in hopes of promoting homeownership. The Congress then created the Federal Housing Administration, which sets standards for construction and underwriting and insures loans made by banks and other private lenders for home building, as well as insuring private mortgages. HOLC developed a system of maps that rated neighborhoods according to their perceived stability. On the maps, the areas rated “A” were marked in green areas. According to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article in The Atlantic by, these areas were considered “in demand” neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, lacked “a single foreigner or Negro”. These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Contrastively, neighborhoods where black people and other immigrants lived were rated “D” and were usually colored in red. This is where the term “redlining” comes from. Usually, these “D” neighborhoods were considered ineligible for FHA backing. FHA selectively granted loans to white neighborhoods and forbid the sale of properties in these green areas to anyone other than whites. The mortgage industry as a whole adopted these practices, and turned the maps into self-fulfilling prophesies. The inability to access capital in these “hazardous” redlined neighborhoods, lead to disrepair and the decline of these communities’ housing value, which in turn reinforced the redline designation. The deterioration of these neighborhoods also most likely also fed white flight and rising racial segregation. The federal government eventually retreated from the practice, and it was outlawed by the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Nevertheless, redlining left long-lasting, truly horrific consequences for black people, black families, and black neighborhoods.

The Mapping Inequality project allows online access to the national collection of “security maps” and area descriptions produced by HOLC between 1935 and 1940. By looking at where the differently rated zones falls on the map, it becomes clear how present differences in the level of racial segregation, home-ownership rates, home values and credit scores reflects the old redlining boundaries. Today, these same communities still face predatory lending, or “retail redlining”, which inversely the proportion of Black residents to grocery stores, non-fast food restaurants, and other retail resources important for promoting and maintain health. According to a Pew Research project led by NYU Sociology professor Patrick Sharkey, to this day, Black people with upper-middle-class incomes do not generally live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000. “Blacks and whites inhabit such different neighborhoods,” Sharkey writes, “that it is not possible to compare the economic outcomes of black and white children.


New York Times

Washington Post

Why is Disney the Biggest Studio in Hollywood?

Why is Disney the Biggest Studio in Hollywood?

Yutai Han



This post will examine the source of Disney’s success. After the Q4 earnings report came out, commentators said that Disney could still be a stronghold for years to come. That is because Disney’s unique advantage lies in its ability to create iconic animated stories that bring warmth and joy to children and their family throughout the world and the ability to turn the stories into a profitable package, a utopian wonderland of magical calling to children with rich imagination.


Disney’s Q4 earnings report show that their profit from studio entertainment dropped 21%, and other revenues such as media networks dropped as well.

The reasons are twofold. First, audiences are abandoning their cable TV subscription. Disney’s affiliate company, ESPN, is going through a turbulent transformation to launch ESPN Plus, part of a $1.2 billion investment of streaming services to compete with Netflix. Second, this year is a relatively small year for Disney’s film business. Last year, Zootopia and Finding Nemo 2 hit the worldwide theater with a craze, but this year Cars 3 wasn’t too successful. On the other hand, big productions such as Thor 3 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi are released in the end of the year and they are not counted in Q4’s earnings report.


For a lot of these films, the profit brought by selling merchandise can sometimes trump the box office itself. For example, Frozen has sold 3 million princess dresses, profiting $450 million. Since last year, Shanghai Disneyland has sold over 1 million fluffy animals and among them, the bestseller is the magic wand and the Minnie Mouse hairband.


The only increase of revenue came from theme parks by 6%, quarter to quarter. According to the earnings report, this year marks the 25th anniversary for the Disneyland at Paris and revenue from the Disney hotels saw some increase.


Therefore, in turbulent times, Disney’s theme parks are still their main stronghold. Although the domestic revenue was impacted by the hurricane season, but overseas revenue saved it. I haven’t been to the Shanghai Disneyland myself but through several positive accounts that I’ve read online, I’m convinced that it’s comparable to any top theme park experiences. It’s somewhere that you can immerse yourself fully into the beautiful fairytales created by Disney and Pixar, and the exciting worlds of Superhero movies created by Marvel Studios. No wonder that the newly-opened Shanghai Disneyland is the top destination for families with kids. The Disneyland at Shanghai opened its door to Chinese about a year and a half ago, and in a recent report (in Chinese) conducted by the Shanghai Information Center, Disneyland has welcomed over 11 million people, bringing a growth of 0.44% GDP to Shanghai as a city, and creating some 62 thousand jobs. In the same time, the opening of Disneyland helped the city boost its overall tourism industry by a growth of 6.9%, as $25 billion. The report concluded in praising Disneyland as a leader of the tourism industry that brings significant economic improvements.


I read that Disney’s attention to detail was surprising to Chinese contractors, but at the same time, Chinese contractors wanted to cooperate with Disney because they’re hoping to learn from Disney’s high standards. For example, before the construction of the Disneyland, Disney formed an academy of sculptors and evaluated them on their work. Disney hired them only after they’ve qualified for the examination. This is part of the effort of Disney to recreate the world from their movies that the visitors can immediately immerse themselves into.


Go Big or Go Home: Many Too Big to Fail Banks Just Got Bigger

Are U.S. banks too big to fail, or are they simply too big to break up?

The economic crisis in 2008 revealed how financially unstable big banks can hold the entire global economy hostage. The concept of these banks being “Too Big To Fail,” meaning a business has become so large that a government will provide assistance to prevent its failure to avoid a disastrous residual ripple effect throughout the economy, was integral during this time. The U.S. government disbursed over $700 billion to save companies like AIG that were on the verge of financial failure.


The tremendous monetary support that was necessary during 2008 increased government regulation of Wall Street significantly and set out to decrease the mammoth of preexisting too big to fail institutions. However, while increased regulation has been realized over the past decade since the crisis, too big to fail banks have not been cut down to size. Rather, the system has gotten even bigger. According to SNL Financial, JPMorgan Chase, the top performing bank in total assets, has seen its base increase to more than $2.5 trillion. Since the end of 2008, JPMorgan’s deposit base alone has grown by over 29 percent. With such promising numbers, JPMorgan is considered to sit atop a list of banks that could threaten global stability.


JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America, the so-called “Big Four” institutions, all show this same upward trend since 2008, with over $8.2 trillion in total assets, which is 154 percent more than re rest of the top 50 banks combined.


To avoid another round of unfavorable bailouts, financial watchdogs have been calling too big to fail banks to make themselves less risky by dividing up and adding significant capital to safeguard against losses. However, amid demands to break into smaller entities, top Goldman Sachs analyst Richard Ramsden claimed that the government’s call to divide JPMorgan into two or four parts would greatly diminish value for shareholders.


According to an S&P Global Market Intelligence report, “if and when another crisis hits, the biggest players will be far larger than they were in the last crash.” Still, approximately 75 percent of the 30 largest too big to fail banks are significantly bigger than a decade ago.


Conversely, government experts find the increase in banks’ total assets promising. In her announcement resigning from the U.S. central bank, Janet Yellen wrote, “I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago, better able to withstand future bouts of instability.”


This past June, the Treasury Department published several recommended changes to regulation intended to prevent “taxpayer-funded bailouts.” The paper called for “eliminating regulation that fosters the creation… of too big to fail institutions” but offered to suggestions on how to alter those already present.


Only time will tell whether the maintained presence of too big to fail institutions will hurt or benefit the U.S. and global economy.

Microtransactions in Video Games

In 2016 consumers spent around $30 billion on video games. Historically, video game consumers spent that money on a single game that unlocked all of its features. However, more recently, video game developers are distributing free-to-play games on the App Store, the internet, Steam, etc. in exchange for introducing microtransactions.

Microtransactions are transactions within a game that allow players to unlock virtual items that help them progress in a game or make their character look better with weapon skins.

With the advent of the App Store, small game developers saw this as an opportunity to sell their games for free but work in transactions so that players could add to the game. Clash of Clans, despite being a free game on the App Store, made $2.3 billion dollars last year. Microtransactions go beyond the App Store, too. League of Legends, a free game made by Riot Games, made $1.6 billion in 2015 off of Microtransactions.

Microtransactions are leeching into full-price video games as well. The new game, Star Wars Battlefront II, was released with a lot of controversy. The $60 dollar game (the deluxe edition costs $80) was going to be released with a microtransaction system. To get loot crates, which can unlock heroes like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, and help a player progress through a game, people would have to pay up. Electronic Arts removed that system before the game came out, after public outcry by gamers and a post which earned EA the highest number of downvotes ever on Reddit.

For big box games like Battlefront, the idea is to create a continual revenue stream for a game even if its initial price depreciates. Within a year some games can lose more than half of their value as new games come out and replace the old ones, similar to cars, though at a much faster rate.

Microtransactions employ behavioral economics. There are a whole slew of tactics, but there are two main ideas that trick people. First, they have weird conversion rates from dollars to an in-game currency, so it is hard for players to know how much money they have spent. Second, developers treat microtransactions like gambling. Players can put in money to get that in-game currency in the hopes that when they unlock a loot box they will get a great prize.

Microtransactions are likely going to be around for a while, and as artificial intelligence takes off, they will probably become more specified to a person’s play style, the friends they have online and a whole host of other variables. Gamers have at least staved off microtransactions in Battlefront, for now.

When We Talk About Gun Control, Here is the Business We Are Talking About

In addition to the belief in the Second Amendment Right, economics in the firearm business could also a reason for the difficulty of implementing gun control in the United States.

Firearms industry is a billion-dollar business. According to the IBISWorld, by June 2017, the revenue for guns and ammunition manufacturing industry is $13.3 billion with $1.0 billion profit. According to the latest Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report in 2016, there were 11,069,333 pieces of firearms, including pistols, revolvers,rifles,shotguns, produced in that year with only 3% of them being exported. The rest of them stayed in America. According to Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report 2017 , there are 301,123 jobs related to firearms industry. The industry also had over 51 billion dollars impact and generated over 6.5 billion taxes.

In order to keep this business running, Center for Responsive Politics said in 2016, gun lobbyist spent over $10 million to protect gun rights. Moreover, gun owners also fear that their guns would be taken away or they would be banned from buying guns. he National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)  said since Obama took office, the gun industry has grown 158%. The CNN has called Obama “the best gun salesman in America.”

Last year, since people were afraid that Hillary Clinton would win the election and take away guns, FBI said the background checks for buyers reached record high during the 2016 Black Friday. Now with Trump in office, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the background checks in July 2017 drop 25% to 907,348, the lowest since 2013 because run owners are more confident about their gun rights. Due to the low demand for guns,  gun companies like Sturm Ruger & Company also experienced drop of their stocks, according to a Fortune article.

Moreover, since people fear a more strict regulation would be put on guns after mass shooting, gun companies tend to see a rise of sales after these tragedies. After Sandy Hook shooting, San Bernardino shooting, and Las Vegas shooting, gun shares all expressed a boost.


“Little Girl” and My Morning Coffee

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I would, without fail, purchase a large cup of iced coffee from the Annenberg cafe before heading to class. Personally, caffeine is not a necessity, but more for comfort as I often need that little push to get through the mornings. However, to many people elsewhere in the world, coffee is something they cannot get out of bed without. And this year, these caffeine addicts have all the reasons to get slightly worried as a “Little Girl” returns for another visit.

(Image of author’s favorite morning drink)

I am of course referring to the La Niña (Spanish for “Little Girl”) weather phenomenon. It is the opposite of the El Niño weather, which turns global climate a bit hotter. La Niña is when unusually cool water surfaces in the Pacific and causes global temperature to change as a result. It would mean that this year, the world would feel a little cooler, which may be a good thing for those who do not like hot weathers. However, it is a devastating news for farmers and manufacturers whose products rely upon a hot weather.

In a Guardian article, Sarah Butler introduces this dilemma global coffee enthusiasts are potentially facing. Coffee beans are a tropical produce, and they do not tend to react that well in face of a cooler climate. La Niña can, for example, bring in “severe droughts in key growing areas including the US midwest devastated crops while excessive rains in Columbia led to the spreading of a deadly coffee fungus”, which was what had happened in its last cycle 5 years ago. When the production of coffee beans is directly and negatively impacted, it is inevitable that the coffee price would surge upwards as a result, since by simple supply-and-demand economics we know that a reduction in supply would cause the market price to go upwards.

Of course, while the simple fact is that our coffee would become more expensive, global climate change can have more devastating effects. Floods and droughts can destroy cities and their economies, all the while taking lives of hundreds of thousands. This year, the United States had suffered from three major tropical storms and hurricanes, and the affected areas are only beginning to recover. With La Niña coming in and making weather patterns more unfavorable, the recovery efforts can be hindered.

Then, the economic damage would not just be a few extra cents on my iced cappucino.

Fed eyeing interest rate hikes as U.S. economy gains more steam

The United States’ economy continues to grow, and the possibility of a recession in the near future looks very slim. That’s a promising forecast for a country that had been rocked by economic collapse about a decade ago.

The question still remains; when the economy is booming, how do you prevent too much inflation that can stir markets for the worse?

The Federal Reserve aims to address this issue, keeping the booming economy in check by enlarging interest rates, as Goldman Sachs projected massive market swells and a strikingly low unemployment rate in 2018. Economists of Goldman Sachs also noted that there could be four Federal Reserve interest rates hikes in the next year, and that the United States unemployment rate, which hit 4.1 percent in October, could reach its lowest point since the 1960’s by the end of 2019.

“With robust growth momentum and no striking imbalances in the economy, near-term recession risk still looks fairly limited,” said Goldman’s chief economist Jan Hatzius, via CNBC. “But the strength is becoming ‘too much of a good thing’ and containing further overheating will become a more urgent priority in 2018 and beyond.”

The overall upswing of the United States economy is accompanied by a similar trend in overall global economic health, when viewed in terms of GDP growth. Germany, for example, displayed GDP growth of 3.3 percent in the third quarter, while the UK’s GDP grew 1.6 percent. Germany’s stock market index, Dax, is up 13 percent, per Express.

Marking the beginning of the United States’ recovery from the major 21st century recession at June 2009, the graph below details that the economy has been growing at a very similar rate for some time now.

But if this rate accelerates too much, over inflation is very possible, and therefore, like Hatzius said, the economy becomes ‘too much of a good thing.’ We witnessed the economy swell to unimaginable highs with risky subprime mortgages, a perfect example of an entity falsely fueling the economy while risk was wrongly assumed to be low.

Actually, a disinflationary trend—that is, a reduction in the rate of inflation—seemed to exist earlier in the year and was worrisome until the U.S. consumer prices, through the lens of core consumer price index (CPI), increased in October. Disinflationary trends lingering over longer periods of time concern Fed officials due to the potential to disrupt interest rate anticipations.

“The Fed has struggled this year in determining if the slowdown in core inflation has been due to a confluence of one-offs or more persistent disinflationary forces,” said Sarah House, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities, courtesy of Reuters. “The pickup clears the way for a December rate hike and supports the case for continued tightening in the year ahead.”

It seems to me like the Fed wants to appear more cautious than it has in the past, considering the financial struggles from ten years ago displayed a lack of governmental regulation as one of many undoings of the economy.

Are video game loot boxes gambling? China and Belgium seem to think so.

It’s no new, news that video games and their accompanying systems are cheaper than ever. A case study by IGN found that when accounting for inflation, video games in the modern era are certainly more cheaper than in the past. A $50 PS2 game in 2005 is worth $60 today and more drastically a $70 Nintendo 64 cartridge is worth approximately $100. However, while games can be seen as significantly cheaper in today’s era, the expenses for creating video games has certainly gone up.

A leaked development contract for 2014’s Destiny outlined budgetary payments of $140 million dollars.

The above represents just one game of dozens that are released throughout the year. When looking at the 2017 release calendar, at least two AAA games were released between January and December, all of them carrying comparable budgets.

While games have become undeniably cheaper when accounting for inflation, publishers still find themselves in need of money past the initial $60 entry fee.

Several years ago publishers began to offer content post-launch to increase longevity. Much of the content amounted to scrapped ideas for maps, weapons, and characters. Simply not purchasing the content carried no negative results.

In the years following publisher tactics have become more aggressive. Season passes as they are titled simply aren’t profitable given the nature of multiple releases a month. Console games have since taken on an approach seen in mobile gaming in which in-game purchases are encouraged to receive immediate benefits.

Much of these micro-transactions involve in-game currency which can be used to purchase items such as collectibles or cosmetics. Scaling from as low as a few bucks to as much as over $100 real dollars, these transactions aren’t necessary and can be completely ignored. For publishers, they are a lucrative opportunity to generate serious cash-flow. For example, Take-Two Interactive which is responsible for the Grand Theft Auto series reported in August nearly $500 million in profits from their in-game currency in just three months time.

Electronic Arts which became the exclusive publisher for Star Wars video games after Disney acquired the Star Wars IP for the paltry sum of just over $4 billion has released two titles in the years since.

In 2015 to coincide with the release of The Force Awakens, EA released Star Wars: Battlefront, a reimagining of the popular series on the Playstation 2 era of consoles. The game was reviewed well, however, sorely lacked content. Many maps and characters were held from release and were bundled part of the Season Pass which retailed at a whopping $50, nearly 90% of the cost of the base game.

Many fans at the onset of the release felt slighted. Eventually, EA discounted the base game within weeks of release to bring up the total cost to around what the base game originally was selling for. The game was reported to have sold-through 14 million copies in one year’s time.

Two year’s later and EA has released its sequel. It has more maps, more modes, and more characters. Downloadable content was even revealed to be free.

In place of a customary season pass, the game instead launched rife with mobile-esque micro-transactions transactions, however, unlike other games that offer pure cosmetics, these micro-transactions offered actual statistical advantages for players who chose to put down real money.

The problem runs much deeper than that. These in-game advantages are tied behind loot boxes. These boxes are entirely random and purchasing one does not have any guarantees. While they do carry the possibility of obtaining an in-game advantage item, it is entirely possible that a player receives purely cosmetic bonuses such as emotes.

Granted, these boxes also vary in cost with the most expensive of the bunch all but ensuring some sort of advantage. Those who wish not to participate in such practices are essentially left behind. More so, those do participate can come up empty handed much like real-life gambling.

The ensuing backlash from fans over their predatory nature and construction of an uneven playing ground forced EA to remove them for the time being, however, since then many have wondered whether such boxes should be made available at all.

In the time since then the Belgium Gaming Commission announced that it has opened a case in regards to these boxes and their slot machine like nature. Because players are unaware of what is inside, many are linking it to gambling. When spinning a slot machine, it is unknown what you’ll win if anything. In Belgium, companies involved with gambling are required to have a license in order to operate. More so, minors and those suffering from addiction are forbidden to play.

In China steps have already been taken in response to these practices. In March, developers of games featuring random loot boxes are required to reveal the odds of players receiving specific items. In one instance a rare item in free-to-play title Dota 2 has a mere 2% chance of appearing when players pay for one such box.

It has been reported, however, that it is only required for the Chinese version of the game to release such odds and it’s entirely possible that developers could boost drop rates in China in order to save face. Still, it is the first actual step in an effort to make consumers aware of what lies inside these boxes and potentially put these practices away for good.

In the time since this fiasco, EA’s stock has dropped 2,5% as of Friday, the release date of Battlefront II. In the entire month of November, it has seen its stock dip by 7% overall.

It remains to be seen where the company goes from here. They are stuck in a terrible predicament. The development of Battlefront II required three entirely different studios to complete the game which certainly wasn’t cheap. Throw in an aggressive marketing campaign and other costs and the game rivals the financial commitment of its movie brethren.

Star Wars itself is a large IP and while it would be easy to offer pure cosmetic bonuses in place of in-game advantages, that simply cannot be allowed. Each cosmetic variation would have to be approved by Disney and Lucasfilm and because Darth Vader has already been established to look a certain way, it is almost impossible to imagine some variation being allowed. As with such to help recoup costs from such an expensive development, this is almost the only logical way to do so, however, at the expense of players.

With the game releasing so close to another mainline Star Wars film, these boxes will have to be on hold for the time being. Disney won’t allow negative press to impact the release of The Last Jedi. In the time following the release, players will move past the game and the money that could have been made will be for naught. At that point the studio finds themselves at a loss, and potentially losing a huge IP.

Not only does this tale have future implications on the Star Wars video game franchise, but on gaming as a whole. If said boxes are considered gambling, than other huge franchises such as Call of Duty will find themselves in a similar predicament. At that point will games leave behind their cheap nature in favor of a higher upfront cost? All of this will be seen in the coming months and years.