While all over Europe government bodies are trying to ban memes, declaring gaming as a mental illness, and reworking user agreements, some countries are tackling a more pressing issue, determining the status of loot boxes.
The essence of loot boxes is very simple and resembles a typical “toy machine” from a shopping center. Well, you know those in which you can shove all your savings, trying to pull out a soft toy or a box with an expensive phone. Such entertainment is called a gaming machine (which available at gaming site like this one – www.casinonic.com/en-ca/games/slots). But what does virtual loot boxes have in common with it?
Game developers smuggled that very system of machines – you give a dollar to get an item worth five dollars. No one will leave offended, since in any case, the player gets at least something, but rare and valuable items have an extremely low chance of falling out. Most importantly, in many games, these items can be sold to other players. So, such items provided companies with super-profits, which were noticed by the authorities of different countries.
The Netherlands is a very interesting and progressive country, the authorities of which are trying to rationally approach all the problems of their citizens. In the area of gaming regulation, the country has a very tough approach. While the Dutch can get along with online gaming, loot boxes are out of luck. They violate the laws of the country, affect teenagers badly, and cause addiction.
So, since June 20, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 players are prohibited from even selling any items related to loot boxes on the marketplace. Loot boxes themselves are also prohibited.
No less progressive country Belgium has announced that packs of players from FIFA, as well as chests from Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are banned (this was back in 2018), Belgium is the first country that made bans on loot boxes.
The situation is completely similar to the Netherlands, but the Belgian authorities have not yet restricted trade-in items.
The population of the previous countries is very small, especially by the standards of the PRC. Accordingly, they have a smaller gaming market, and much fewer adolescents who depend on the Internet and video games.
China has very carefully approached the regulation of loot boxes but obliged developers to disclose the chances of items falling out of loot boxes while maintaining a formal distinction from illegal activities. It is unlikely that anyone will be stopped by the news that the next “ultrasupermy immortal unicorn” can be obtained by the player with a 0.001% chance.
A similar situation, by the way, is in almost the entire Asian region.
The French can’t decide whether to ban loot boxes or not. Unlike its northern neighbors, which outright banned paid virtual boxes, France agrees that such boxes undermine the EU’s gaming regulation. To determine the exact status of this issue, it will be necessary to convene the European Forum for the Regulation of Gaming.
However, ARJEL, the French regulator of online gaming, believes that loot boxes still work on the same principle as game machines.
The television in Russia produces reports about the terrible addiction of adolescents to games. Nothing new. Unless they will introduce an additional tax, even though such a thing is prohibited in the country.
Besides, in this country, many large companies do not hesitate to directly sell in stores all the gaming items necessary to win, there is practically no way to hide game advertising, and shopping centers are full of game machines. If there is any wait for the regulation of loot boxes, it will not be soon.
The United States and Poland actively support game developers, and they are unlikely to agree with the rest of the European Union to ban loot boxes and the sale of in-game items.
The Australian state of Victoria recognized loot boxes as a problem a year ago (in 2019), but things are moving slowly across the country, and the decision will only change the rating of some games to R18 +.
Like other countries, the Australian authorities do not care about gaming addiction in adults.
It is fair to point out that loot boxes have been around for a very long time. The random reward element is used in a variety of RPG and card games, and card packs have been around for years (such as Magic the Gathering).
But when it turned out that players were ready to buy sets with virtual items on the Internet, trade them among themselves, and spend a lot of money for such gaming, the main gaming companies did not miss their chance to make money on this by adding a novelty to the microtransaction system.
Some people think that if people have fun, then so be it. Even if it’s buying loot boxes. You should not meddle in the lives of other people, otherwise you can dig out much more monstrous ways to get rid of worldly suffering. And the same people deny this right to the state.
I think that this problem will not be solved for a long time. Too many workarounds, too hard to control the market. Too much money is spinning. And the only way to get rid of gaming, to which loot boxes can be safely attributed, is described in the novel “We”. The authorities of many countries have the same opinion, so they will stop at the hobby of the age limit for some games.