May 21, 2018

Dutch Gambling Authority Gives Game Developers Deadline to Fix Illegal Loot Boxes

21 April 2018, 10:01 | Rudolph Thomas

Dutch Gaming Authority calls out loot boxes, finds four games in violation of Better Gaming Act

Four out of Ten Loot Boxes Violate Dutch Gambling Law, Local Regulator Finds

The Netherlands has declared loot boxes as gambling recently and has warned game publishers to remove them as they can be addictive.

The regulating body investigated ten popular games that included loot boxes, and found that four of them had "elements in them that can also be found in the gambling world". Loot boxes, also known as loot crates, are purchasable in-game items that contain further items, some of which could be of great value and help to players, while others could only represent simple customization options.

Loot boxes have been subject to much controversy over the past several months. If the publishers fail to do so, then the NGA has the authority to fine them or ban the sale of those games in the region entirely. "Those games that feature a combination of in-game goods that can be traded and the obtaining of these goods through loot boxes fall under Article 1 of the Betting and Gaming Act".

The study was undertaken exclusively to clarify the "ambiguities" surrounding the question of loot box prohibitions in the country.

The Dutch gambling authority launched an investigation into the nature of loot boxes after the initial release of the Star Wars Battlefront II game and the subsequent wave of concerns that the in-game items constituted gambling to an extent and were promoting gambling activities among teenagers and other vulnerable groups of players.

Presentation, rather than the loot itself, is the primary driver of addictiveness: Those on the high end of the scale "have integral elements that are similar to slot machines", the report said, including unlimited access, the ability to cash out virtual goods, particular visual and sound effects, and a "near miss" effect that encourages the feeling of having almost won something. Since all types of loot boxes seem to emulate the feeling of pulling the lever on a slot machine, why were just these four titles singled out? The risk potential generally depends on the way loot boxes are offered.

The Dutch Gaming Authority report (a rare example in which Google Translate works beautifully) says: "Of the ten examined loot boxes, four are in violation of the law".

"This argument is not valid", it states.

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