Predatory loot boxes has become a serious issue in a lot of regions, with some regulatory bodies stepping in to classify and regulate them as gambling services. Well, another country has stepped in to do just that, and their policy will go into effect this summer.
Eurogamer is reporting that the Netherlands Gaming Authority has given publishers an ultimatum: remove gambling-style loot boxes from games or suffer the consequences come June 20th, 2018.
This measure was taken after angry gamers and parents filed complaints with the Netherlands Gaming Authority back in November 2017 in relation to the gambling-style loot box mechanics present in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
The Dutch gambling commission took things a step further by conducting a study on 10 of the most popular games featuring loot boxes, and the study found that four of the 10 games featured monetary systems that violated the Betting and Gambling Act, which centers around the concept of betting and gambling real money on items that can be traded outside of the game.
The study did not name and shame the publishers nor the games that contravened the Betting and Gaming Act, but games that did violate this measure and companies that have similar measures must be removed before June 20th.
A Dutch broadcaster did name and shame four games, but it isn't made clear if the four games were the ones that the Netherlands Gaming Authority classified as having contravened their gambling laws. The four games included FIFA 18, DOTA 2, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Rocket League.
There have been a number of issues and controversies centered around EA's FIFA series, where a number of people have complained about addiction, or parents have had to step in and deal with their kids spending inordinate amounts of money on microtransactions.
In particular, EA Sports titles use a form of loot boxes in the form of ultimate team packs, where random packs will contain buffs or characters to help players increase their own team. This applies to games like Madden NFL and EA Sports UFC.
Part of the issue with games like FIFA is that there are gray market resellers who buy FUT points for real-world cash, thus players who manage to rack up enough points can then cash out for real money.
If publishers decide to ignore the warnings and forfeit to take heed to the Dutch Gambling Authority's restrictions, there could be fines and penalties doled out for games that still have loot box systems in place that go against the law. Just recently the South Korean Federal Trade Commission came down hard on Nexon for the loot boxes present in Sudden Attack, showing a clear shift in the marketplace and how regulators could eventually put an end to the proliferation of loot boxes.