Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Germany may ban loot boxes

A University of Hamburg study says that videogames are increasingly embracing elements of gambling.


Germany is looking into imposing restrictions on loot boxes in videogames, according to this Welt report, which says (via Google Translate, so caveats apply) that a study by the University of Hamburg has found that elements of gambling are becoming increasingly common in videogames. It's an important part of the game industry's business model, but the chairman of the Youth Protection Commission of the State Media Authorities warned that it may violate laws against promoting gambling to children and adolescents.  
Germany's Media Authorities join a chorus of loot box critics from countries including Belgium, Australia, and the United States, all of whom have suggested that RNG loot drops that require real-money purchases could be, or should be, subject to some form of regulation above and beyond ESRB age ratings.
That position runs counter to opinions expressed by videogame publishers and rating agencies, including the ESRB in North America and PEGI and Ukie in Europe. Germany's USK rating board hasn't weighed in yet, but PEGI operations director Dirk Bosmans said in October last year that he believes it holds the same position: That "we cannot define what constitutes gambling," and therefore cannot regulate loot boxes as such.
The Youth Protection Commission will render its decision on loot boxes in March, according to the report. I've reached out to the USK for more information and will update if I receive a reply.
Thanks, KitGuru.

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