Loot Boxes in video games was a hot topic of 2017 and it appears to be continuing in 2018. Electronic Arts took a blow from the public backlash with their original attempt to monetize Star Wars Battlefront 2, loot boxes are still around and are slated to return to SWBF2. Far too much money has been made sense loot boxes entered the gaming industry. Some popular titles have seen half of their profits come from loot boxes alone. Needless to say, big publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision don’t want to disrupt this very lucrative business model. While the attempt for legislation on Loot Boxes has picked up in America, it’s still a topic being taken seriously across Europe.
Sweden on Loot Boxes
Sweden may classify Loot Boxes as a lottery around January 2019. This is to mostly offer consumer protection to children and adolescents. They have seen a rise in youths showing signs of gambling addiction associated with the use of loot boxes/crates in video games. Some like Ardalan Shekarabi have seen the gambling mechanics in some popular titles and have seen no regulation at all to protect the consumers. The majority of Sweden’s parliment are open to reviewing loot boxes to see if they should be considered a lottery and offer consumer protections to reflect that. Some have even proposed that Loot Boxes be banned outright.
We are working to regain control of the gaming market as soon as possible and ensure that Swedish consumer protection rules apply to all actors involved in gaming.
Minister of Civil Affairs, Ardalan Shekarabi
Swedish Parliment currently has an online gambling review related to online casinos and overseas gambling which has interfered with the state’s monopoly on lotteries. Loot Boxes may be affected by the review should they change the definition of lotteries. It is a secondary and not an initiative by the legislator or policy maker. Per Strömbäck, Swedish Games Industry spokesman, is not optimistic that this review will have an impact on Loot Boxes.
Germany on Loot Boxes
The German Youth Protection Commission announced they are considering an outright BAN on loot boxes in video games. This decision came after research conducted by the University of Hamburg. They found too many elements of gambling in video games. Primarily, it promoted gambling to audiences that could be children and adolescents. Studies showed that a small portion of the player base where responsible for the majority of the revenue created by loot boxes. They noted that this is “a typical feature of gambling markets.”
The Youth Protection Commission will render it’s decision on loot Boxes in March. Chairman Wolfgang Kreißig stating that it’s “Conceivable” that loot boxes violate existing regulations that where put in place to protect children and adolescents. The Netherlands, as well as the British Gambling Commission, have expressed concerns over the blurred lines between video games and gambling.
The Number of concerned government authorities and politicians on the loot box issue has been growing over the last couple months and shows no signs of stopping.
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