Loot boxes in games are gambling and should be banned for kids, say UK MPs

UK MPs have called for the government to regulate the games industry’s use of loot boxes under current gambling legislation — urging a blanket ban on the sale of loot boxes to players who are children. Kids should instead be able to earn in-game credits to unlock look boxes, MPs have suggested in a recommendation that won’t be music to the games industry’s ears. Loot boxes refer to virtual items in games that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance. The MPs argue the mechanic should be considered games of chance played for money’s worth and regulated by the UK Gambling Act. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) parliamentary committee …

Facebook introduces Avatars, its Bitmoji competitor

Ditch those generic emoji. Facebook’s new Avatars feature lets you customize a virtual lookalike of yourself for use as stickers in chat and comments. Once you personalize your Avatar’s face, hair, and clothes, they’ll star in a range of frequently updated stickers conveying common emotions and phrases. From Likes to Reactions to Avatars, you could see this as the natural progression of self-expression on Facebook…or as a ruthless clone of Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji selfie stickers. Facebook Avatars launches today in Australia for use in Messenger and News Feed comments before coming to the rest of the world in late 2019 or early 2020. The feature could make Facebook feel more fun, youthful, and visually communicative at a time when …

Startups net more than capital with NBA players as investors

Mary Ann Azevedo In February, we covered how digital sports media startup Overtime had raised $23 million in a Series B round of funding led by Spark Capital. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern was an early investor and advisor in the company (putting money in the company’s seed round). Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant invested as part of the company’s Series A in early 2018 via his busy investment vehicle, Thirty Five Ventures. And then, Carmelo Anthony invested (via his Melo7 Tech II fund) earlier this year. Other NBA-related investors include Baron Davis, Andre Iguodala and Victor Oladipo, and other non-NBA backers include Andreessen Horowitz and Greycroft. I talked to Overtime’s CEO, 27-year-old Zack Weiner, about how the involvement of so many NBA players came about. I also wondered what they brought to the table beyond their cash. But …