The recently released Star Wars Battlefront II action shooter video game muddied the water last week after it became clear that the game features a virtual rewards system (better known as a “loot box“), which can be bought with real money. Purchases in video games that have a random result are viewed as a form of gambling by many and multiple concerns have been voiced that said loot boxes often appear in video games aimed for minors.
As a result, these have appeared on the radar screens of gambling regulators around the world. In a recent letter to France’s gambling regulator Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), French senator Jérôme Durain urged the country’s watchdog to investigate the purchases of loot boxes in video games and whether these can be classified as a form of gambling.
Many modern video games feature loot boxes filled with valuable for the player in-game goodies that can be purchased for actual money. According to experts and psychologists, these boxes encourage players to spend their money on in-game currency. The presence of loot boxes in video games could possibly trigger gambling addiction among minors. And French senator Jérôme Durain has been the latest to thumb down the loot crates in video games.
In a letter to the President of ARJEL, Mr. Durain voiced his concerns relating to the hidden threat of loot boxes. The letter was sent on 16th November, shortly after the gambling regulators in Belgium and the Netherlands officially announced that they are to investigate if these loot boxes can be classified gambling options. In his letter, the French senator emphasized on “the deleterious effects of the spread of these micro-transactions in the world of video games.” A translated version of the letter can be found on Reddit.
Other Governments to Probe into Loot Boxes in Video Games
The big buzz around loot boxes in video games keeps on growing after Star Wars Battlefront II has become quickly a subject of bitter controversies. The game was released last week, but it has been attacked by gambling opponents for its “gambling nature.” The opposition has quickly garnered great support among a number of players and officials from different parts of the world, who share one and the same stance on the matter – loot box systems are a form of gambling.
For instance, the Belgian Gaming Commission said last week that the purchase of loot crates that offer random chances of winning prizes is a form of gambling as players invest real cash, hoping to win valuable items that can boost their performance in the game. Under the Netherlands’ existing laws, all games of chance need to be licensed by the government. Supposing that the government classifies loot boxes in video games as a form of gambling, such games may be temporarily banned until the country’s lawmakers introduce a new package of legislation.
Earlier this year, the UK Gambling Commission officially announced its position on virtual currencies and eSports. The UK’s gambling watchdog pointed out that to encourage minors and other vulnerable people into gambling is a crime and hefty sanctions would be imposed on the wrongdoers.