Loot Boxes should be a Consumer Protection Matter


There has been a lot of talk about loot boxes in recent times. Many video game companies have chosen to use this mechanic as a way to create revenue on top of the initial cost of the title. While this is something that has been avoided by most of the recommended online casinos, the video game industry has taken it to heart.

Many feel that it should come under the jurisdiction of the various gambling regulators around the world. However, the EU IMCP feels that it should actually come under the umbrella of consumer protection. This conclusion has come from a study that was commissioned by the EU IMCP.

Taking Advantage of Behavioural Impulses

The study has shown that players are taken advantage of by these loot boxes found inside the games. The main issue that the study has flagged up is that the games use an addictive reward structure to create the loot box system. This is combined with an artificial value for items that are supplied by the loot boxes, which gives players the potential to succumb to problem gambling. As there is no real value to the items, it further exacerbates the issue for players.

While the EU IMCP does believe that the use of loot boxes creates a gambling mechanic within the game, it also acknowledges that using gambling legislation to limit loot boxes has been attacked by lobbyists at every turn. Because of this, the EU IMCP believes that going down the route of consumer protection would be a more effective path to regulating the issue.

Introducing consumer protection would mean a number of extra steps being added in order to protect players. This could start with something as simple as adding extra information screens. The additional information would give players the ability to understand exactly what is taking place when using the loot boxes.

Due to a lot of the game developers being deliberately vague about how their loot boxes work, it does mean that consumers are not fully protected. The introduction of consumer protection would mean that a lot more information and knowledge would have to be provided to players before they can engage with any loot box feature.

Introducing More Legislation

The introduction of new legislation for loot boxes is something that has been pushed for a long time now. Many countries around the world have had politicians and people in power calling for gambling regulation for many years. There has still been no positive movement in regard to legislation being brought forward though.

It’s believed that the gaming industry moves too fast for regulations to keep up, which is why they haven’t been brought in at this time. While there is no guarantee that this belief is correct, the EU IMCP firmly believes that the route of consumer protection would make sure that players are fully protected when interacting with loot boxes.

This is a measure that’s likely to be implemented over the next 12 – 18 months, as long as it gets the backing from governments. Regulators are already getting closer to clamping down on the video games industry, so this move could be used to calm the waters slightly.