In response to the concern over how loot boxes are used in video games, 18 countries have joined together in an effort to increase transparency and raise awareness of their impact on consumers. The UK’s government is also investigating the use of loot boxes as a potential gambling device.
The “18 European Countries’ Consumer Organisations Against loot boxes” is a topic that has been gaining traction recently. These countries are the United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece and Hungary. The article explains how these countries have come together to oppose the use of loot boxes in video games.
Consumer protection agencies from a dozen and a half European nations have ruled that loot boxes are no longer acceptable.
Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland are the eighteen European nations from which the twenty organizations spoke. They all agree with the Norwegian Consumer Council’s research, “Insert Coin: How the Gaming Industry Exploits Consumers Through Loot Boxes.”
They want to see further reforms, such as the prohibition of deceptive design, more protection for minors, and increased transaction transparency. The research accuses businesses of exploiting customers via addictive and exploitative methods. “Both games deploy a vast arsenal of techniques to drive customers into spending as much time and money as possible abusing consumers [who] aspire to acquire the prize despite a miniscule possibility and likely to do so,” the 59-page paper says, citing FIFA 22 and Raid: Shadow Legends as examples. The following is how players profit from the sale and display of loot boxes in-game:
“Using misleading design to exploit cognitive biases and weaknesses”
“Aggressive marketing methods are used to drive sales at all times”
Giving “difficult to analyze” “meaningless or misleading transparency statements on the chances of winning or losing”
“Opaque algorithms and skewed probability” were used.
“Using virtual currency layers to obscure or distort real-world monetary expenses”
“Extremely high freemium costs and never-ending grinding”
The “potential for material to be lost at any point”
“Loot boxes and manipulative methods” are “targeted at children.”
Finn Mysrstad, NCC’s digital policy director, responded to these remarks by saying: “Loot boxes have already been the subject of countless disputes,” stated Director of Digital Policy. Our research has shown that the selling and presentation of loot boxes often involves predatory tactics, addiction, and targeting vulnerable customer groups, among other things. Despite its size, the video game industry has generally escaped governmental scrutiny. Existing business models are either technically challenging or unique. Many authorities believe video games to be a fringe entertainment business. Because of the sheer magnitude of the market and the number of people impacted, regulatory investigations and actions should be prioritized by national and EU authorities. We propose a number of solutions, including the prohibition of misleading design, additional safeguards for minors, and transactional openness. Authorities and the gaming industry both have a role to play in ensuring a safe environment for players.”
The European Union began cracking down on loot boxes in April 2018, with Belgium leading the charge. Since a consequence, Diablo Immortal will not be published in Belgium or the Netherlands, as loot boxes are considered gambling in both countries! In October 2020, a court in The Hague determined that the gaming regulator in the Netherlands might punish Electronic Arts half a million euros per week for selling FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes after the feature was declared gambling. However, the Dutch Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State ruled in March 2022 that the previous finding was a “unjustified penalty,” and the publisher will not be required to pay any additional fees, as a gambling license is only required if the game is a slot machine and not part of a larger video game…
It’s past time to get rid of treasure boxes.
VGC is the source of this information.