Lootbox "gambling" is getting regulated in Belgium and soon Hawaii and the EU?


#1

This has already been going around from PCGamer: http://www.pcgamer.com/belgium-says-loot-boxes-are-gambling-wants-them-banned-in-europe/
And Belgium isn’t alone, Hawaii has started to look into regulation as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_akwfRuL4os

I suspect (and it is alluded to in the Hawaii video) that this is just the beginning. A bunch of other regulatory and legislative bodies are going to jump on this. I think the major question now is: how far will this go? In the Belgium case, they specifically mention not allowing purchase of anything that you don’t know exactly what it is (i.e. no purchasable random items at all). Personally, I expected this and kind of welcome it. Having dealt with some gambling issues in the past, I’ve been tempted the same way by this stuff and really don’t like all the lootboxes, especially purchasable ones.


#2

The headline is a tad misleading at the moment in how it implies Hawaii has already committed to legislation when to my knowledge they are merely looking into it. Might be worth changing


#3

From what I gather, the Belgian Gaming Commission has concluded that the type of lootbox found in Battlefront 2 does constitute gambling, and Belgium wants to work with the EU to ban the practice (at least, as far as I can tell, in products aimed at minors). Even the Belgian Justice Minister has spoken about the issue.

In this case I think government intervention may be the only real way to curb the practice, seeing as how the big publishers, many of which are publically traded companies, could invoke some form of fiduciary duty to shareholders to maximize profits as an excuse to continue abusing lootboxes (which are extremely profitable) if the free market is left to its own devices.


#4

I welcome open discussions about how regulation of addictive games of chance can best be implemented in our hobby in regions that “the world” cares most about (NA and EU) building on the lessons of regions which already regulate elements of games of chance.

Specifically, I hope the EU looks at collection for reward (collecting an entire set of “prizes” before being rewarded with the main prize, eg illegal in Japan), undisclosed odds (eg illegal in China), and how randomised rewards paid for with real money (even if indirectly) are compatible with age ratings such as PEGI 12 or in general (eg caps on real money spent, rules against infinite money sinks that you can pay into forever, rules on set collection that make collecting the last of a collection increasingly expensive due to duplicates even outside of collection for reward mechanics).

Ideally the industry would realise that they have already seen regulation in some countries and that the best outcome will likely be self-regulation and a common global set of principals for development & consumer information literature.


#5

Hi. It’s my first post on this forum. The way I look at it, the ESRB failed to do what it set out to do. The ESRB was created by gamers to prevent government regulation by self imposing age ratings. When the people approached the ESRB about their issues with blind boxes, the ESRB responded in a very odd way. Instead of age gating gambling in games, they stated gambling is only gambling if it is possible to get nothing. As gamers, I am certain that they knew better. I would speculate that they thought the topic was a little too heated to take a stand, and as a result, the people now have to rely on government stepping in, and taking action as a people by boycotting and protesting these games at large.

I am now one of the people who boycotts some of these games. If the ESRB had stepped in, things would have looked very differently? Either way, this is what the gambling commissions exist for, and I hope they will do their job. I’m of the opinion these companies have overstepped their boundaries.


#6

The ESRB isn’t made up of gamers, though. It’s a self-regulation body set up by the games industry itself in the 1990s to self-regulate in order to avoid government regulation. Since it’s made up in part of big gaming publishers, it’s not surprising in the least that it would come out in favor of practices that are profitable for those same publishers.


#7

Thank you for the speedy correction Rama. I had heard the ESRB was set up by gamers on a YouTube video. Which is not the most accurate source of information.

That makes sense. Then the ESRB isn’t of much use to us.

(For some reason I am not very good at researching my sources and it gets me into these situations. I know Austin is very good at this. Maybe he can give me some tips, some time.) :smiley:


#8

Unfortunately, no it isn’t :confused:

It’s a lot more interested in what is good for the companies than what is good for consumers. Sometimes those are the same thing, sometimes not.