What if video games and gambling have merged and there is already a blur separating the two? Enter the controversy that is loot boxes. What exactly are loot boxes? A loot box is a virtual item which can be redeemed in order to receive different virtual items. Virtual items could include equipment and even armor. And for a lot of experts, loot box is a form of monetization. Players are buying the boxes directly while playing. So is this really something that can already be considered gambling? For Dutch Gaming Authority, they have considered these games a form of gambling.
Crackdown on Loot Box
The Dutch Gaming Authority is now putting its foot down regarding loot boxes. There are ten popular games with loot boxes that are not being investigated in the Netherlands by its gaming commission. Reported by the public agency NOS, four of the ten have been given two months in order to make necessary changes to loot boxes in order for them to comply with the Better Gaming Act.
If the companies failed to make the necessary changes mentioned by the agency, there is a chance that they will be dealing with fines or worse, be prohibited to from being sold in the Netherlands. According to the agency, the four games that they have scrutinized featured “elements in them that can also be found in the gambling world”.
How Does it Work?
Each of the games has loot boxes that contain items that can be traded. This has economic value making it a tricky subject for the regulators. Trading items have provided players with earning money if a rare item drops from the loot box. And because of this, it violates the rules of the gaming commission.
If you will ask Marja Appelman, the director of the Gaming Authority, “They are designed as gambling games are designed, with that you have almost won”. She added that “There are all sorts of sound effects and visual effects when you open such a loot box, so you have a tendency to play through and through”.
Appelman said that “I call on all game companies not to make loot boxes accessible to children anymore and to remove addictive elements”.
Is she actually right? Could the loot boxes act like a slot machine in a casino wherein you get addicted because of the price and the visual and auditory stimulation that you get from it?
Six of the ten games with loot boxes that are in question by the Dutch authorities have items that couldn’t be traded. The Gaming Authority didn’t mention the titles of the games that are being investigated. However, the games will be announced to the public if they have failed to meet the standard that was set by authorities.
There was a study conducted by the Gaming Authority pertaining to loot boxes that causes young players vulnerable and could even start gambling sooner. They are also at risk of getting addicted to this habit.
And why exactly is this alarming? By 2022, the total spending for both skins gambling and loot boxes will be at $50 billion. That is already going to be up by $30 billion just this year.