The Dutch Gaming Authority, the body responsible for administering gambling and games of chance in the Netherlands, has finished an investigation into loot boxes in video games. And citing that investigation, the body has ruled that multiple games may be in violation of gambling and related rules within the country. Interested readers can find an English PDF of the study here.
The group look at ten games that include loot boxes, and found multiple examples within titles that need to mend their ways. The violation ruling rests on the qualification that items within these games can be obtained randomly, and then sold for real-world money on third-party services. It’s that real-world monetization that’s the crux of the violation by the way.
A spokesperson for the Gaming Authority was also critical of games that sell loot boxes which cannot be exchanged for real money saying that they could encourage real gambling due to the way in which they are presented in-game. This means that intentionally railroading players toward microtransactions with psychological profiling and subtle marketing tricks might also be in the crosshair.
“They are designed as gambling games are designed, with the feeling that you have almost won,” says Marja Appelman, director of the Gaming Authority. “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.”
The government body has notified developers and publishers of the games in question that they need to change their ways within eight weeks. The commission itself hasn’t disclosed which games were the target of the ruling, but speculation points to games like Fifa 18, Dota2, PUBG and Rocket League as the ones that got the banhammer threat.
Whatever the outcome of this and other legislation efforts against loot boxes, it’s unlikely that they’re going anywhere anytime soon. Blizzard alone made billions of dollars from microtransactions in 2017. And that’s just one developer, the actual number on how much the gaming industry makes from loot boxes is extremely difficult to calculate.