Starting June 20th, 2018, the Netherlands Gaming Authority will begin to enact enforcements against software publishers utilizing predatory loot boxes that do not adhere to their gambling regulatory laws.
In a recent press release published on the official Gaming Authority website, the commission noted that after doing a study, they found that four out of the 10 games featuring loot boxes contravened the gambling regulations, and publishers will be forced to either remove the loot boxes or bring them in line with the gambling regulations set within the Netherlands.
The press statement makes it very clear and to the point what was concluded from the regulatory body’s study, where they explain why predatory loot boxes are gambling, saying…
“The reason is that the content of these loot boxes is determined by chance and that the prizes to be won can be traded outside of the game: the prizes have a market value. Offering this type of game of chance to Dutch players without a license is prohibited. Moreover, the analyses that are currently available indicate that all of the loot boxes that were studied could be addictive. […] As a result, the supervisory body is calling on the games sector to modify all games before mid-June. “
This could potentially be why Warner Bros., decided to remove the loot boxes and microtransactions from Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
The press release from the Netherlands Gaming Authority also revealed that the investigation began after the general public complained to the commission about the loot box microtransactions that were originally supposed to appear in Star Wars: Battlefront II back in November. At the last minute EA was forced to renege on that monetary system after parents protested to Disney about the feature being designed to get kids hooked on gambling, at which point Disney’s Bob Iger called EA and had them to can the feature.
The Netherlands Gaming Authority is also working with other supervisory bodies in order to take joint action against publishers who do not adhere to the new ruling. In the press release they state…
“The Netherlands Gaming Authority therefore calls on providers of this type of loot box to
remove the addiction-sensitive elements (‘almost winning’ effects, visual effects, ability to keep opening loot boxes quickly one after the other and suchlike) from the games and to implement measures to exclude vulnerable groups or to demonstrate that the loot boxes on offer are harmless.
“To date, the supervisory body has not been able to establish that providers of the games
implement control measures to exclude vulnerable groups such as minors and to prevent
addiction. The Netherlands Gaming Authority puts the protection of vulnerable groups, such as minors, first.”
While some people have claimed loot boxes are not gambling, many times their mechanisms do fall within the very definition of most gambling commission’s depiction of gambling. In fact, the Washington State Gambling Commission forced Valve to have various third-party Counter-Strike: Global Offensive loot box rings shutdown, as they claimed that selling high-value loot boxes and trading them for real money was a form of gambling.
Many publishers currently target their loot boxes toward kids in the mobile sector, for which Nexon and Netmarble were recently fined by the Korean Federal Trade Commission for utilizing predatory loot boxes in their games. Whether or not this will have any effect on how microtransaction business is conducted in the U.S., remains to be seen.
(Thanks for the news tip GearDizzy)