Report of ‘manipulative’ video game loot boxes explodes
Consumer groups from 18 European countries have backed a report titled Game loot boxes ‘exploitative’.
The contents of virtual boxes are announced only through the game or during payment.
While some contain useful tools or desirable extras that enhance the experience, others are unnecessary.
The report’s authors, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC), said gamers were “spending” large sums of money on loot boxes.
Game publisher EA has previously compared loot boxes to Hatchimals or Kinder Surprise children’s toys.
Critics say crates are a form of gambling because players won’t see what they’ve actually purchased until they’ve paid to open the content.
Finn Myrstad, director of digital policy at NCC, said: “The sale and presentation of loot boxes often involves exploiting consumers through predatory mechanisms, developing addiction, targeting vulnerable groups. consumer and more. ”
The report is backed by 20 consumer groups in 18 countries, calling on governments to take action through regulation.
This includes the European Consumer Organisation, which represents consumers in Europe, including those in the UK.
The report says it “seems obvious” that the systems used to convince people to part with their gambling money are “predatory, manipulative and extremely aggressive”.
He added that these problems were exacerbated by the fact that some of the games containing loot boxes were aimed at children.
Banned in Belgium
There is some debate over whether loot boxes constitute games of chance.
In 2018, the Belgian Gambling Commission ruled that it was in violation of gambling law, leading the famous FIFA series to stop using its virtual currency in the region. Simply put, loot boxes can only be obtained by playing the game’s Ultimate Team mode.
The Netherlands then came to the same conclusion in 2019, fining FIFA publisher EA €10m (£8.5m).
The ruling was overturned in March 2022, when the court found EA did not break the law and overturned the fine.
He said FIFA loot boxes, which contain digital versions of real football players who can play for FIFA player teams, add an element of opportunity to Ultimate Team mode, but that’s not partly than another game of skill. big.
In 2019, a vice president of games at EA defended the company’s use of loot boxes, telling deputies they were both Kinder Eggs.
Kerry Hopkins said: “We think the way we implement these kinds of mechanics, and of course our core FIFA, our Fifa Ultimate Team and our packs, is really quite ethical and fun, quite friendly with people.” .
But that same year, Fortnite maker Epic Games decided to let players of its hit video game see what was in their llama loot boxes before deciding to buy them.