Games News

Dutch legislation cracks down on loot boxes pretty hard

Blizzard
The standard loot box in Overwatch
Overwatch - Loot Box

Game developers have eight weeks to dump loot boxes from their games after the Netherlands Gaming Authority decided to be the first to crack down on them. Namely, a study showed that four games are in violation of their Better Gaming Act.

Their study has shown that loot boxes are carbon copies of concepts from the world of gambling, where participants rely on luck rather than skill. Encouraging this behaviour by possibility to win big apparently doesn't sit well with them.

The Dutch performed a study across 10 games, four of which were found to be in violation of the law. The other six, even though still technically legal, were found to be fostering "development of addiction".

AltCharA lute, a box and a loot box against a blue background Loot + Box = Loot box.

The country's Gaming Authority says that loot boxes prey on the weak, i.e. the youth, and that their addiction potential is "moderate to high. We mean addiction potential of loot boxes, not the youth, although we're sure the latter ain't lagging behind much.

Marja Appelman, the Authority's director, says that loot boxes are designed just like gambling games, where players get a feeling they "have almost won". Adding various sounds and shiny visuals further reinforces the addictiveness, Appelman added.

Participants have been notified and have eight weeks to comply with the ruling, otherwise they may be fined or banned altogether. The report didn't name the tested games but they will if the companies choose not to comply.

AltCharA wooden crate against a blue background with AltChar logo watermarkAltChar: Loot Box

Dutch website NOS suggests these are FIFA 18, Dota 2, PUBG and Rocket League, although this cannot be confirmed with confidence, at least not yet.

This is not the first time the issue of loot boxes has been raised, although it seems to have degraded into a show. We wrote about Hawaii, Sweden and even the United States, even though the following ruling by ESRB meant the fight died down quicker than Lawbreakers.

Ultimately, it seems it is up to the Dutch to spearhead the way and the Authority claims they'll work with other European regulatory bodies in ensuring the trend is taken care of.