Video game loot boxes and their appropriateness for children are under scrutiny again, this time by lawmakers in Germany. Several German lawmakers and video game industry lawyers took to the internet recently on a round table discussion sponsored by Gluecksspielwesen.de to talk about the potential harm caused by loot boxes, and some potential legislative options for dealing with them.
Video game loot boxes have become a hot-button issue for lawmakers because many critics consider them to be a legalized form of gambling that’s aimed at children. Indeed, with video game players spending cash to potentially win digital objects ranging from very valuable to nearly worthless, it’s not a big stretch.
In Germany, the issue is whether or not it’s time to act at a national level, or if local controls and a self-policing video game industry are enough at this point. Lena Werner, a Bundestag member representing the Social Democratic Party, summed up the issue saying, “Gaming should be a leisure activity that is enjoyable and not gambling through the back door. Especially with an eye to children and young people, it is our responsibility to establish safeguards to protect them from possible negative effects.”
Werner’s colleague Linda Heitmann, of the Green Party is a step ahead of the pack and is pushing for loot box reform at a national level adding, “I see a need for tighter laws and regulations here. Educational campaigns are needed, but above all the providers of games and apps must be held accountable by offering information and prevention, as well as by providing technical solutions such as automatic slowdowns when games last too long by rewarding breaks and even banning loot boxes.”
Given the loot box regulation that’s already happened in the UK and Spain, German-facing video game makers had probably better start considering how they’ll present loot boxes in a heavily regulated environment.