The European government is eyeing the video game market. The other day, his Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection published the results of an investigation on the topic of loot boxes. The document suggests a different look at the control of this area. Among the key proposals: not to be limited by gambling legislation.

According to the report, loot boxes carry a gambling component. They are addictive, stimulate an irresistible desire to play and force players to spend virtual and not only currency again and again.

But it is difficult to fight them. One of the reasons is the willingness of the gaming market to change quickly. As soon as the first legal prohibitions of this mechanics began, a number of developers and publishers began to bet on a different type of monetization. We are talking about combat passes, which also encourage users to spend a lot of time in games for the sake of being able to open all the content.

Another problem: the struggle of regional regulators with loot boxes exclusively at the level of gambling legislation. This is easily bypassed by companies: they just stop promoting specific games and selling IAP in them.

Since the regulation of gambling legislation is assigned to the participating countries and cannot be of an all-Union nature, titles are still available in other countries of the European Union. This leads to fragmentation of the European video game market and shows the limitations of an effective, according to the authors of the report, approach to combating loot boxes.

The Committee sees the solution in acting on the part of consumer protection legislation. It is at this level that restrictions can have all-Union force, be a single set of rules for the entire European gaming industry.

This will allow:

a) to increase the effectiveness of measures already existing in different countries (including: banning loot boxes that are recognized as gambling; informing about the IAP on the box; banning advertising of the purchase of loot boxes among minors; informing about the probability of winning; introducing parental control; informing users about how games work)

b) introduce new rules, as well as improve existing practices (for example, the report says that parental control cannot be effective if most people do not know how to use it: such a setting should be intuitive, and even attractive even for adult players who want to protect themselves from temptation).

But it’s not just European Union officials who are concerned about loot boxes today. Previously, measures aimed at limiting this mechanics were applied in other regions as well:

  • in early July, the House of Lords of the United Kingdom announced the need to recognize loot boxes as gambling mechanics;
  • in April, the USA and Canada introduced a separate labeling for games with loot boxes;
  • In March, in Australia, deputies from the Commission on Social Policy and Legal Affairs proposed restricting access to loot boxes to those players who are under 18 years old.

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