games with negotiable loot boxes are illegal

Apr

19

2018

Dutch Gaming Authority: games with negotiable loot boxes are illegal
Dutch Gaming Authority has investigated ten popular games with lootboxes and states that four of them are breaking the gambling law. This is because the contents of the loot boxes are transferable via external trading places.

The Gaming Authority does not say which games are involved, but the regulator has investigated the ten most popular games of the moment. The games have been selected based on popularity on a widely used platform for game streaming, probably Twitch.

It is plausible that at least PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds belong to the four games that are in violation. That game is very popular and there are trading places where content from lootboxes can be sold.

The Gaming Authority gives the creators of the games in question eight weeks to make adjustments. If this is not followed, the names of the games will be announced and the regulator can take steps such as imposing fines or a sales ban. The regulator will take enforcement action from 20 June.

According to Marja Appelman, director of the Gaming Authority, lootboxes are designed as gambling games are designed, with all sorts of sound effects and visual effects when opening a box, which creates a tendency to continue playing.

If the contents of the lootboxes can be traded, they gain an economic value and the games violate the rules of chance according to the regulator. That this is not facilitated by the game makers themselves, but takes place at external trading places, does not matter.

Games that contain lootboxes whose content can not be traded are not in conflict with the gambling law, according to the Gaming Authority, but the regulator nevertheless criticizes the phenomenon. Developers should take responsibility themselves to extract addictive elements from lootboxes and make them no longer accessible to children, says Appelman.

The Gaming Authority notes that lootboxes are also being investigated in other European countries and, together with European colleagues, said they want to withdraw from lootboxes. At the end of last year, the Belgian Minister of Justice said he wanted to ban games with lootboxes and the German Youth Protection Commission was also considering a ban.

Research Gaming Authority
The loot boxes that the Gaming Authority has investigated. The regulator does not mention the titles of the games.

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