Home Gaming 16 gambling regulators unite to tackle loot boxes

16 gambling regulators unite to tackle loot boxes

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The regulatory battle against loot boxes and card packs in games continues. Just a week or so after reports that The Belgian Gaming Commission is hitting EA with a criminal investigation for not removing FIFA’s card packs from the game in that country, several gambling regulators have unified to tackle the problem.

Fifteen gambling regulators from across Europe, along with the US’s Washington State regulator have signed an agreement to work together to “address the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling.”

Say the signatories of the declaration:

“Our authorities are committed to the objectives of their public policies with regard to consumer protection, prevention of problem gambling and ensuring the safety of underage persons. While each regulator has distinct duties and powers within our own national gambling frameworks, we share a number of common principles including the need for gambling to be regulated to ensure high standards of integrity, fairness and consumer protection, in particular in relation to children.

Given these shared principles, we are increasingly concerned with the risks being posed by the blurring of lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming. Concerns in this area have manifested themselves in controversies relating to skin betting, loot boxes, social casino gaming and the use of gambling themed content within video games available to children.”

While this new union of regulators hasn’t gone after anybody so far, they do a fair bit of ominous, admonitory finger-wagging.

“We anticipate that it will be in the interest of these companies whose platforms or games are prompting concern, to engage with [gambling] regulatory authorities to develop possible solutions.”

I think that’s regulator-speak for “Pappa wag vir jou.”Mostly though, the declaration is about educating children and parents about the possible dangers of addiction that loot box-addled games could introduce.

Says UK Gambling Commission Chief Neil McArthur:

“We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children. We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.”

“We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe online. For example, unlicensed websites offering skins betting can pop up at any time and children could be gambling with money intended for computer game products.”

If these sorts of unions and enquiries continue, it’s entirely plausible that we’ll see video game-makers forced to eschew loot boxes and their ilk in the future.

Last Updated: September 18, 2018

53 Comments

  1. Kromas

    September 18, 2018 at 09:36

    And when all their powers combined they summon captain lootbox.

    Reply

  2. Guz

    September 18, 2018 at 09:43

    Any loot box that you can earn is fine, thats a reward for playing. Paying extra for content that you cant earn/get from drops shouldn’t be allowed full stop

    Reply

    • Kromas

      September 18, 2018 at 09:45

      I am one of those lootbox assholes that Jim Sterling hates cause I think the way Overwatch did theirs is perfectly fine as long as we get free maps and characters every few months instead of DLC that splits the community.

      Reply

      • Pariah

        September 18, 2018 at 09:49

        For me, that’s what MTX is for. Look at Warframe. No lootboxes, all free content, tons of MTX to buy if you feel like supporting. And although I don’t play it any more, they got a good sum of money from me when I did. Without lootboxes.

        Reply

        • Kromas

          September 18, 2018 at 09:53

          Except were a lootbox costs 2 dollars the skin you want costs 15 dollars and this i hate specially when lootboxes nowdays have duplicate protection built in.

          Reply

          • Kromas

            September 18, 2018 at 09:54

            Also i can earn the lootbox in game … cosmetics almost always have no such function.

          • Pariah

            September 18, 2018 at 09:56

            Cosmetics. That’s the keyword. If I don’t feel like ponying up for a specific skin, I won’t. Lootboxes allowed for that “it’s only $2, let’s give it a go”. 10 lootboxes later you get the skin you actually want, a bunch of stuff you don’t care about, and you’ve spent 50% more than if you just bought the skin outright.

          • Kromas

            September 18, 2018 at 09:57

            Thats where duplicate protection c0omes in handy. Lately almost every lootbox in Overwatch I have opened has given me a epic or legendary skin.

          • Pariah

            September 18, 2018 at 09:58

            That’s with duplicate protection in mind. Without it, you’d have more like double the amount of lootboxes, sometimes way more. I’ve seen some streamers spend literally thousands of dollars for just one specific drop.

          • Kromas

            September 18, 2018 at 09:59

            Blizzard and Ubisoft both have full duplicate protection on their games. Valve and EA are the big offenders and I don’t particularly play their games anymore. 😛

          • Pariah

            September 18, 2018 at 10:01

            Dota has duplicate protection. In fact, if there are 10 skins in a box (excluding the 1-3 rare ones), all you need is to buy 10 boxes and you’ll get all 10. No duplicates guaranteed until you’ve gotten 1 of every non-rare.

          • Kromas

            September 18, 2018 at 10:03

            Wow … have not played in years and did not know they added that.

          • Pariah

            September 18, 2018 at 10:05

            They added it almost 2 years ago. I still played back then. And the no duplicate thing resets every time, so with 20 boxes you’d get 2 of every skin. And with every box opened, your chances at getting the rares increase. So it’s about as fair as it gets with loot boxes, really. They still should get lost.

          • Guz

            September 18, 2018 at 09:59

            Nothing worse than opening lootboxes and you keep getting the same items, so frustrating

  3. Pariah

    September 18, 2018 at 09:47

    YES. YES. And YES.

    I hope they rid us of these damn loot boxes for good. I don’t mind microtransactions, but the loot boxes are a blight on the gaming world.

    Reply

  4. Kromas

    September 18, 2018 at 09:52

    So my opinion is this. Lootboxes won’t go away but they will become exclusive to in game currency. Apart from that devs will add standard microtransactions and will sell items at a premium.

    To illustrate this I will use Blizzard. An Overwatch lootbox costs 2 dollars if I recall but the single sale mercy skin from the other day was 15 dollars if i remember correctly. I believe if Overwatch starts adding in all the skins for sale they will cost 10 dollars upwards and Blizzard will make even more money.

    Reply

    • Pariah

      September 18, 2018 at 09:53

      So this I wouldn’t mind, actually. In-game only lootboxes, and real money only cosmetics. Could work.

      Reply

    • Mark Treloar

      September 18, 2018 at 10:46

      Wasn’t the Mercy skin also raising money for Cancer Research?

      Reply

      • Kromas

        September 18, 2018 at 11:27

        It was but don’t for a second think non money raising skins will cost less. You can have a look at wows store vs their xmas donation pet prices for reference.

        Reply

  5. Ghost In The Rift

    September 18, 2018 at 09:58

    The snowball she is rolling… hope it finds it target by ramming right up EA’s corporate behind…Do you even realize what you did EA, look at your results…

    Reply

    • Pariah

      September 18, 2018 at 09:59

      Heh, it’s funny when you think that maybe EA did something good for the industry. Not intentionally, but still funny.

      Reply

    • Guz

      September 18, 2018 at 10:09

      Maybe they can sell some of their IP that they bought up from other studios and let some other company have a crack at them

      Reply

      • Pariah

        September 18, 2018 at 10:10

        Bioware, please. They’d do so much better without EA’s BS.

        Reply

    • Mark Treloar

      September 18, 2018 at 10:49

      Problem is it sets a precedent, if EA loses. What stops them from going after other media next? TCG games for example. I spent hundreds possibly thousands on Magic Cards back in the day trying to get cards I needed for decks.

      Reply

  6. Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    September 18, 2018 at 10:08

    By the same token we should regulate the customers.

    Reply

    • Pariah

      September 18, 2018 at 10:09

      That’s what parents and common sense are for. Beyond that, it’s not the regulatory bodies’ job to regulate people. Age restrictions on movies, age limit of 18 for gambling, drinking, etc. There’s only so much a governing body can do before they start infringing on people’s rights.

      Reply

      • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

        September 18, 2018 at 11:36

        Yes, on the head. As mentioned elsewhere, parents need to take the time to see and understand what their kids are spending so much time with, and educate their kids accordingly.

        Reply

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