What is a loot box?
A loot box is a virtual surprise box. Players can purchase these in cryptocurrencies or real money. The box contains randomly generated items that are randomly distributed to provide players with some of the main benefits of the game. This concept has been common in free games for many years.
Since users do not know what they are getting when they buy a loot box and are thus tempted to keep buying new boxes, critics equate the use with gambling. Also because the games are designed in such a way that they use psychological tricks to encourage gamblers to make further purchases.
According to analyzes
Many companies earn a large part of their sales from a few players, which, according to the researchers, is “a typical feature of gambling markets”. And the business with the Paytowin title is worth it. In 2016, game makers will achieve sales of around € 8 billion in the microtransaction model, with more than € 10 billion expected in 2017.
Addiction warnings for upcoming games
Dutch gambling authorities have also issued general addiction warnings for all computers and video games with loot boxes, such as “Overwatch.” Therefore, the design and mechanics of the box are similar to luck-dependent games such as slot machines and roulette.
Agencies are calling on developers and publishers to modify addiction-sensitive mechanisms. The impression of victory should no longer occur.
Warning Protection for Minors in the United States
The North American counterparts for the German USK have already responded to this. ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) is adding new points to youth protection notices for games sold in stores. As soon as the title allows in-game purchases for real money, consumers will also display this on the ESRB label. It doesn’t matter if the player can buy a loot box, sell CSGO skins and a season pass, or sell other virtual items in the title.
Authorities are consciously refraining from issuing certain warnings only in the case of loot boxes. The reason for ESRB President Patricia Vance is that many buyers are too difficult to tell this and many simply don’t know what it is.
State media authorities consider a ban
Based on this data, the Youth Protection Commission of the state media authorities is considering banning certain microtransactions and loot boxes. “The loot box is believed to violate the ban on the purchase of children and adolescents,” said Wolfgang Craig, chairman of the Youth Protection Commission of Welt am Sonntag, in a largescale infringement of the title. I mentioned before. Anyone who does not fix them accordingly can even expect a fine in Germany.
Governments in Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom have already expressed their views on this topic at the end of 2017. Since then, German politics has also dealt with this topic. Free voters, SPDs, and CDUs have urgently filed complaints and raised in the Bavarian State Council whether loot boxes are a game of chance. All parties require the protection of minors from possible game mechanics.
The free voter application that has been rejected since then is the most thorough and seeks a general release from the age of 18 for all games that use loot boxes. Meanwhile, the CDU and SPD are calling for a more detailed investigation and processing of the facts and an investigation of new measures to protect minors.