European Gaming Regulators Refuse to Restrict Loot Boxes

  • A year-long study concluded that no blanket restrictions can be made on loot boxes
  • This is due to each European state having its own definitions of gambling
  • The GREF recommends that national bodies work together to develop protections
  • The forum also calls for more parental awareness on the dangers of loot boxes

    Official decision made

    The Gaming Regulators’ European Forum (GREF) has decided against the implementation of widespread restrictions on loot boxes. The move follows the findings of a year-long study on the effects that video game microtransactions, including loot box offerings, have on gamers.

    The GREF has opted not to take any measures that could curtail the features of loot boxes despite having been specifically recommended to impose such restrictions. 

    Details of the forum’s report

    The report on the work carried out by the GREF compiles the findings of the research which began in September 2018. It was published on October 2 by the French regulator, ARJEL.

    The forum is made up of 36 gambling regulators from 31 different European nations. At the time, 19 regulatory bodies had expressed concerns about video game microtransactions being borderline gambling.

    imposing restrictions on loot boxes would be majorly dependent on the rules of each individual country

    The report states that the GREF believes that imposing restrictions on loot boxes would be majorly dependent on the rules of each individual country in the region. Each nation will have its own definition of gambling, and any such restrictions would have to align with these laws. 

    Recommendations made by the regulators

    The GREF has also noted that there needs to be a coordinated effort from a number of parties to deal with any such issues with loot boxes. This would include the national bodies for education, health, and consumer protection, as well as those in charge of financial and digital regulation.  

    The forum recommends that consumer protection groups come up with their own proposals on this matter. One suggestion it makes relates to “the communication before the purchase of the loot-box content and the probabilities of obtaining a particular virtual item.”

    The report calls for more efforts in educating parents on issues relating to loot boxes. It also encourages productive conversations between gaming companies and authorities overseeing the sector to come up with further protective solutions, especially for younger people. 

    Backlash against loot boxes

    There has been a widespread backlash against loot boxes in video games in recent years. The likes of Belgium and the Netherlands already have bans in place on certain types of loot boxes. There is also a long-running campaign from UK MPs and a US senator to have loot boxes banned in their respective jurisdictions. 

    The GREF report outlines a need for major legislative changes in a lot of cases to help redefine the definition of gambling in individual states. 

    Despite the extensive backlash, numerous video game publishers are still focusing on the incorporation of loot boxes in their games. A trailer for the recently released NBA 2K20 caused a lot of controversy for being so heavily focused on microtransactions. 


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