The Dutch Gaming Authority did a study on ten of the most popular games and the loot boxes in them. Out of those, four contained elements that could be found in the gambling world. The other six contained items that could not be traded so they complied with the law.
The four ‘guilty’ games even though not announced publicly by The Gaming Authority are likely Dota 2, FIFA 2018, PUBG and Rocket League, as they were the subject of investigation and three of them are available on the Steam platform. Basically, what differs them from the rest is that their items have market value, which allows them to be traded outside of the game for real money and that violates the gambling rules. The companies behind those games – Valve, EA, PUBG Corporation and Psyonix will be given eight weeks to adjust their products in compliance. If that doesn’t happen, the regulator can impose fines or prohibit the sale of the games as a whole. How the latter is going to work on a title like Dota 2, which is essentially free to play, remains to be seen.
Gaming Authority director, Marja Appelman shared: ‘They are designed as classic gambling games are designed, with the feeling that you have almost won. 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. I call on all game companies not to make loot boxes accessible to children anymore and to remove addictive elements.’
The main concern seems to be that these digital goods can lead to potential addiction for young people, which are still the majority of the players. Claiming that game developers aren’t doing anything to protect children from themselves, the government now seeks to impose that. How will the developers respond to this and how will all of this affect one of Valve’s upcoming games, which in its essence is a Trading Card Game?