Lost trea­sures

Loot boxes be­ing with­drawn from games in Europe af­ter le­gal changes

XBox: The Official Magazine - - INSIDER -

Af­ter the fall­out from last year’s

Star Wars loot box con­tro­versy and sub­se­quent out­rage from var­i­ous gov­ern­ments, for­mal le­gal changes are start­ing to ap­pear and af­fect ti­tles that have in-game pur­chases.

New laws in Bel­gium and the Nether­lands clas­sify paid loot boxes with ran­domised con­tent in­side of them as gam­bling, as they in­volve a game of chance. So far Over­watch and NBA 2K have re­moved the mi­cro­trans­ac­tions in these coun­tries, but other games such as FIFA have yet to com­ply as they’re in­sist­ing their card packs don’t count as gam­bling. Those that don’t com­ply could face a fine of 800,000 euros and a five-year prison sen­tence – which seems in­cred­i­bly harsh.

Sym­bolic ges­tures

Also, videogames rat­ing body PEGI is in­tro­duc­ing a new sym­bol to be placed on all phys­i­cal games across Europe to mark out any game that has an in-game pur­chase, be that mi­cro­trans­ac­tions or DLC. The hope is that peo­ple see­ing the credit card-like sym­bol will be more aware that ex­tra money might be in­volved af­ter buy­ing the game. In­creas­ing aware­ness feels like a step in the right di­rec­tion.

While Europe is mak­ing moves to ad­dress the is­sue, there’s been no move­ment in the US de­spite Hawaii rais­ing bills to pre­vent those un­der the age of 21 from buy­ing games that in­clude loot boxes. While the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion was ini­ti­ated it has since been qui­etly for­got­ten af­ter fail­ing to meet a dead­line.

Hope­fully, in time, a bet­ter so­lu­tion that falls some­where be­tween the harsh­ness of a full ban and the soft touch of a tiny sym­bol can be found, but that will prob­a­bly take longer while gamers and de­vel­op­ers alike de­cide where the line be­tween a small, paid­for bonus and gam­bling lies. We’ll cover fur­ther de­vel­op­ments in fu­ture is­sues of OXM.

RIGHT EA is adamant that the card packs in FIFA don’t count as gam­bling.

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