Are video game loot boxes the gateway to problem gambling? That’s a question that’s been bandied about quite a lot over the past few years as loot boxes have become a more integral piece of the video gaming world. But loot boxes are every bit as controversial as they are popular, and that’s garnered the attention of gaming regulators in the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Over the past few years attempts have been made to regulate, or completely ban video game loot boxes but a new report from the EU committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection could be the death knell for one of the video game world’s most lucrative side hustles. The report took a comprehensive look at the connection between problem gambling and loot boxes in a way that’s never really been done before. What it found, is that there may be a connection between the two, but that more research is needed to determine once and for all.
While that may sound like good news to loot box fans, the Committee’s report is likely to be used as an excuse to tightly regulate or ban loot boxes completely. In this domain, the European Union has the discretion to act through a broad range of means, ranging from non-binding recommendations to mandatory legislation.
“The effectiveness of existing initiatives, for example the provision of information about video game content and purchase systems to consumers, making parental control tools available and accessible, and raising awareness among players about problematic game design, should be verified. This could be done, for example, through consumer testing. Based on such an assessment, the European Union could take steps to complement and strengthen the protection of (young) players,” the report concluded.
In short, watch for plenty of regulatory action that permanently brands loot boxes as a form of gambling.