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The rise in the number of games with loot boxes was undoubtedly part of the reason for player pushback, but among that growing trend there were individual cases that stood out like beacons.

And, as Evan pointed out, loot boxes made the game boring. The Shadow of War controversy quickly morphed into a debate about whether loot boxes had a place in gaming at all, a topic the PC Gamer team discussed at length in October.

The community started raising questions about the addictive nature of loot crates which Alex explored with the help of experts , and whether children should be exposed to them.

These were more than just hypothetical musings: politicians and regulators around the world faced pressure on the issue, too.

A petition in the UK called on the government to amend gambling laws to include loot boxes, and an MP championed the cause in Parliament.

But the questions did not go away, and the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 only fanned the raging flames. The reaction was strong enough for EA to remove microtransactions from the game entirely, and they may never return.

Dutch authorities have launched their own investigation, too. The Daily Telegraph. The Wall Street Journal.

Archived from the original on March 16, Retrieved March 16, November 24, Retrieved January 30, Retrieved April 16, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

September 9, Retrieved September 11, Retrieved July 28, October 26, Retrieved October 27, May 9, Retrieved May 8, February 1, Gaming Law Review.

April 9, GameMeca in Korean. Retrieved September 16, March 28, Retrieved April 9, Republic of Singapore. October 7, The Straits Times.

Archived from the original on August 13, The Guardian. Retrieved August 27, Kotaku Australia. November 22, March 14, Retrieved April 6, Retrieved June 28, Retrieved September 17, Retrieved November 27, Commonwealth of Australia.

February Retrieved March 5, Retrieved December 11, The Sunday Times. Retrieved September 14, BBC Radio 4. November 17, Retrieved December 14, Retrieved October 16, Retrieved October 26, UK Parliament.

March 13, November 21, Retrieved July 2, Retrieved July 23, Retrieved October 22, Retrieved January 18, Retrieved June 8, House of Lords.

July 2, Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. February 17, Dutch Gaming Authority. April 10, Archived from the original PDF on April 20, Retrieved April 19, Retrieved June 20, July 11, Retrieved July 12, Kansspelautoriteit in Dutch.

Archived from the original on November 16, Retrieved November 16, Retrieved April 20, Retrieved August 22, Game Revolution.

Retrieved September 5, Retrieved September 26, Retrieved November 8, Retrieved February 12, Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved May 21, Retrieved September 10, Retrieved January 29, Retrieved June 29, Retrieved February 5, The ESports Observer.

Lexology ]. Retrieved March 28, Retrieved July 20, Retrieved February 7, Retrieved May 14, Retrieved July 27, Loot boxes in online games and their effect on consumers, in particular young consumers PDF Report.

European Parliament. Bloomberg Business. Retrieved December 19, Archived from the original on November 22, Archived from the original on November 28, Retrieved December 5, Archived from the original on February 12, Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Washington State Senate. January 11, Retrieved January 28, The Esports Observer. January 19, Retrieved January 21, Retrieved January 24, Retrieved May 23, Retrieved April 14, The Bridge.

April 15, Retrieved December 4, Japan Online Game Association. April 1, Retrieved December 28, November 11, Retrieved November 11, — via YouTube.

Retrieved November 30, Retrieved May 9, Archived from the original on February 15, Retrieved February 14, Retrieved February 27, Archived from the original on February 28, Retrieved February 28, Retrieved April 13, Retrieved February 20, Retrieved February 22, Retrieved April 5, Retrieved August 7, Retrieved August 12, Retrieved August 8, Retrieved December 26, Retrieved May 29, Retrieved November 29, International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

December 18, Retrieved February 4, Retrieved June 18, January 28, Retrieved February 1, Video game classifications and controversies. You open up a box and get items that may or may be what you want, or they may be worthless though, unlike gambling, you always get something.

This means that to get items they want, players may have to invest lots of money in multiple loot boxes until they hit the jackpot.

How likely is that? Publishers may argue that this is a way to get a greater return on investment so they can continue making more expensive, innovative games.

While microtransactions are fairly straightforward, many gamers suggest the random rewards from loot boxes may be a form of gambling. In October , though, the Entertainment Software Rating Board ESRB , which rates games for age appropriateness and factors like violence or sexuality decided not to classify loot boxes as gambling.

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents game companies, asserted to Glixel that loot boxes "are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences" and that they aren't a form of gambling.

In February , the ESRB announced the addition of an "in-game purchases" label to physical games that have loot boxes, DLC, downloadable skins or any other in-game purchase.

But that may change at the legal level. It sounds possible that legislative action of some sort may be on the horizon, though that can take time.

Alternatively, vote with your wallet. You can complain all you want about loot boxes and microtransactions, but if you buy those games and make in-game purchases , developers and publishers will keep utilizing them.

If the Battlefront controversy is any indication, making your voice heard on forums and subreddits can actually make a difference. EA has put a pause on microtransactions and removed some of the most rare prizes from loot boxes in a hope to calm fans, and that could have a big impact on how the next wave of AAA games implement them.

Michael Warnecke, Senior Policy Counsel at Entertainment Software Association, recently announced that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will require new and updated games that feature loot boxes to reveal the odds of receiving specific items by The best part is that those three companies aren't the only ones participating in this initiative.

Interactive Entertainment and Wizards of the Coast are also working on greater transparency for in-game purchases. Tom's Guide. Back to School

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How and why did attitudes shift so quickly? And what can we expect from ? The rise in the number of games with loot boxes was undoubtedly part of the reason for player pushback, but among that growing trend there were individual cases that stood out like beacons.

And, as Evan pointed out, loot boxes made the game boring. The Shadow of War controversy quickly morphed into a debate about whether loot boxes had a place in gaming at all, a topic the PC Gamer team discussed at length in October.

The community started raising questions about the addictive nature of loot crates which Alex explored with the help of experts , and whether children should be exposed to them.

These were more than just hypothetical musings: politicians and regulators around the world faced pressure on the issue, too. A petition in the UK called on the government to amend gambling laws to include loot boxes, and an MP championed the cause in Parliament.

But the questions did not go away, and the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 only fanned the raging flames.

A loot box is typically a form of monetization , with players either buying the boxes directly or receiving the boxes during play and later buying "keys" with which to redeem them.

These systems may also be known as gacha based on gashapon — capsule toys and integrated into gacha games.

Loot box concepts originated from loot systems in massively multiplayer online role-playing games, and from the monetization of free-to-play mobile gaming.

They first appeared in through , and have appeared in many free-to-play games and in some full-priced titles since then. They are seen by developers and publishers of video games not only to help generate ongoing revenue for games while avoiding drawbacks of paid downloadable content or game subscriptions, but to also keep player interest within games by offering new content and cosmetics through loot-box reward systems.

Loot boxes were popularized through their inclusion in several games throughout the mids. By the later half of the decade, some games, particularly Star Wars Battlefront II , expanded approaches to the concept that caused them to become highly criticised.

Such criticism included " pay to win " gameplay systems that favor those that spend real money on loot boxes and negative effects on gameplay systems to accommodate them, as well as them being anti-consumer when implemented in full-priced games.

Due to fears of them being used as a source in gray-market skin gambling , loot boxes began to become regulated under national gambling laws in various countries at the same time.

A "loot box" can be named several different ways, usually related to the type of game that it appears in.

A "loot box", "loot crate" or "lockbox" is often applied to shooter games since one obtains new equipable outfits or gear from it.

Digital card games may use the term " booster pack " following from collectible card game roots.

Loot boxes are often given to players during play, for instance as rewards for leveling up their character or completing a multiplayer game without quitting.

Loot boxes are generally redeemed through an in-game interface which dresses the process with appealing visual and audio effects.

The items that can be granted by a loot box are usually graded by "rarity", with the probability of receiving an item decreasing rapidly with each grade.

While the set of items given are randomly selected it can come with certain guarantees, for instance that it will contain at least one item of a certain rarity or above.

The player's inventory is managed in server databases run by the game's developers or publishers.

This may allow for players to view the inventory of other players and arrange for trades with them. Most loot-box systems grant items without regard for what the player already owns.

Means are provided to dispose of these duplicates, often involving trading them with other players or converting them into an in-game currency.

Some loot-box systems allow players to then use this currency to directly purchase specific items they do not have. Some loot-box systems, primarily from Asian developers, use an approach adapted from gashapon capsule toy vending machines.

One form of gacha called " complete gacha " allows players to combine common items in a set in order to form a rarer item.

This is particularly true if there are a large number of common items in the game, since eventually one single, specific item is required.

Some games may include seasonal or special event loot boxes which include specific items only available during the time of that event.

Loot boxes are an extension of randomised loot drop systems from earlier video games, frequently used to give out randomized rewards in massively multiplayer online role-playing games MMO or MMORPG or similar games.

Such tickets were sold at the price of Japanese yen per ticket. Like real-life gachapon machines, players attained randomly chosen game items when they used the ticket on "Gachapon", an in-game booth that was distributed across the game world.

The Chinese free-to-play game ZT Online or simply Zhengtu which was released in by the Zhengtu Network is also considered to be one of the early examples of video games that contained loot boxes as a part of its game system.

Instead of trying to change this approach, Asian games like ZT Online introduced loot boxes as a means to assure monetization from a game that they would otherwise not receive revenue from the base sale.

In Western regions North America and Europe around , the video game industry saw the success of Zynga and other large publishers of social-network games that offered the games for free on sites like Facebook but included microtransactions to accelerate one's progress in the game, providing that publishers could depend on revenue from post-sale transactions rather than initial sale.

Over the next few years many MMOs and multiplayer online battle arena games MOBAs also transitioned to a free-to-play business model to help grow out their player base, many adding loot-box monetization in the process, [20] [21] with the first two being both Star Trek Online [22] and The Lord of the Rings Online [ citation needed ] in December Initially released as downloadable content, the "FIFA Ultimate Team Mode" transitioned to a free add-on to the base game with the release, with the ability to buy card packs as a means to generate revenue for the game.

Mass Effect 3 offered "packs" that would offer uncommon gear, otherwise obtainable only by " grinding " through online gameplay, as a means to offset the cost of running the multiplayer services.

The Mass Effect 3 team worked closely with the FIFA team to get the rollout of these packs right, which developer Jesse Houston compared to opening a Magic: The Gathering booster card pack to make a player feel like they were always getting value from the pack.

Other early examples of packaged games with loot boxes included Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in August , adding "weapon cases" in an update, [24] and Battlefield 4 in October , adding "battlepacks", though they did not become purchasable until May and never granted duplicate items.

With the financial success of Overwatch and its loot-box systems, several games in and included the mechanic as part of its meta-game, [27] including Call of Duty , Halo 5: Guardians , Battlefield , League of Legends , [28] Paragon , Gears of War 4 , and FIFA By late , a large number of core AAA games from key franchises released near this time, including Middle-earth: Shadow of War , Forza Motorsport 7 and NBA 2K18 , with varying mechanics in their loot-box systems, led to critical review of the practice starting in October Due to reactions to loot boxes starting in late , some developers and publishers have pulled loot boxes from their games.

Loot boxes with random content are still available as free in-game rewards, but, after the March patch, cosmetic options are available for direct purchase with real money as well.

Loot boxes are considered part of the compulsion loop of game design to keep players invested in a game. Proponents for the use of loot boxes have countered complaints that they are gambling systems by likening them to opening collectible toys such as Hatchimals [46] or booster packs from physical collectible card games CCGs like Magic: the Gathering.

In the United States CCGs have been subject to previous legal challenges related to if they are a form of gambling, but were not found liable.

Some have argued the increased use of loot boxes in games since Overwatch was due to the perception that the act of opening loot boxes is an exciting element for a game for both the player, and those watching the player either on YouTube videos or through live streaming , creating a number of multi-million subscriber video streams solely dedicated to opening loot boxes.

Games with randomized in-game rewards, including those from loot boxes, and which offer the means to trade these items with other players, are known to attract the use of skin gambling.

In skin gambling, these customization items, "skins", become a black market virtual currency among players and operators of websites that allow players to trade the items for real-world funds, or to use those items to gamble on esports or other games of chance ; subsequently these activities have been identified as gambling by legal authorities, and several legal challenges arose in the last half of to stop this practice.

Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive , updated in to include randomized loot drops from in-games, has been the most visible example of skin gambling by mid Some loot-box systems within free games are criticized as "pay-to-win" systems, and may be derogatorily referred to as "pay-to-loot".

In these cases, the contents of the loot box contain items, beyond superficial customization options, which directly affect gameplay, such as booster packs for a digital collectible card game, and with the impact on gameplay proportional to the item's rarity.

This can tie the quality of a player's ability to compete with others to the random generation systems of the loot pack, and may drive players into paying for additional loot boxes to obtain high-rarity items to fairly compete with others.

Some commentators expressed concern that for these types of loot-box models to be successful for the publishers, the game itself has to be designed around promoting and encouraging the player to purchase loot boxes, which fundamentally impacts core game design principles and may weaken the underlying game mechanics.

For example, Middle-earth: Shadow of War has a second, true ending requiring the player to gain many more stronger allies to meet its higher difficulty.

While the developers playtested the balance of the game without the loot-box system activated, assuring the game could be completed without additional monetization, reviewers found that the game required a great deal of time needed to complete numerous additional missions for the chance to acquire stronger allies, and with the consistent presence of the in-game market for loot boxes, made it difficult to avoid the allure of paying real money to bypass this grinding, creating a negative on the overall experience.

The implementation of some loot-box systems are considered anti-consumer by some players and commentators. Full-priced games which already provide downloadable content and then include a loot-box system have been heavily criticized by players.

Developers and publishers consider loot boxes part of a necessary process of monetizing AAA video games beyond their initial sale.

Monetization schemes like loot boxes can help provide long tail revenue, well after the release of the game. Developers noted that the decision to include loot boxes in a game, and how they will be priced in real-world funds, may come from their publisher or upper management, but the implementation of their mechanics, including what they include, how they are doled out, and the like, are frequently set by the developers themselves.

Blizzard Entertainment 's Overwatch 's loot box implementation does not impact gameplay, but other aspects of the system are subject to criticism.

A free crate is given to the player each time the player reaches enough experience to level-up, but the rate of experience acquisition varies with player skill.

While any item contains only cosmetic appeal and has no influence on gameplay, the desire for a specific item creates a strong incentive to purchase additional crates.

Principally an online multiplayer shooter, Battlefront II was developed to eliminate the "season pass" approach that the original game had used, which was found to have split the player base over those that paid for the added content and those that did not.

These schemes include a loot-box system providing, among other rewards, "Star Cards" that provide boosts to a specific character class, and which have tiered levels tied to rarity that provide greater boosts.

Because these higher-tier Star Cards give direct advantages to players willing to acquire many loot boxes with real money than at the rate one would obtain simply playing the game, its loot-box system at the time of its open beta period had been described as one of the more egregious "pay-to-win" systems for a full-price game.

EA did re-evaluate this approach in response to criticism, and prior to full release, reworked the loot-box system so that some items still offered in loot boxes like Star Cards could also be earned through other routes such as in-game achievements, in-game currency, or through direct monetary purchase.

The combined loot-box and micro-transaction systems, all elements of "pay to win" schemes, drew even more criticism. Just hours before the game's official launch, EA and DICE temporarily disabled all micro-transaction purchases until they figured out a way to offer these systems in a favorable manner for consumers; DICE stated: "We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing, and tuning" before they are reintroduced.

Disney, knowing the franchise draws in younger players, feared the loot-box systems would contribute towards gambling behavior in children. The player reaction to Battlefront 's loot-box system led to the Belgian Gambling Commission to evaluate the nature of loot boxes specifically in Battlefront.

In the United States, it generated legislative debates about a potential sales ban within Hawaii and some other US states.

Analysts expect that EA will have to re-evaluate how they monetize games in the future to avoid similar backlashes, which may further reduce future revenues.

This, coupled with the removal of micro-transactions from the game while they readdressed the loot-box approach, led to the game missing EA's revenue projections for that quarter.

Electronic Arts also published the FIFA series of association football games in annual installments, using the appearances and attributes of the real-world athletes in the teams on the league.

Part of more recent entries in the system include its "Ultimate Team" mode, where players can form their own teams by collecting "cards" of these players, which have been offered through virtual card packs that can be purchased with in-game currency or real-world funds Points currency.

While this is a similar mechanism to other games using loot box mechanics, the use here is criticized due to the fact that cards earned from one version of the game do not carry over into the next year's version.

Thus, players must work to regain a competitive team by re-earning in-game credits or spending more money by buying additional points, with the potential to continue that cycle each year.

Because of their use of random chance to gain items after committing real-world funds, games using loot boxes may be considered a form of gambling.

Games with loot-box systems have become subject to regulation in several Asian countries, while questions of the legality of loot boxes are under consideration in some Western ones.

In December , China's Ministry of Culture announced legislation which required "online game publishers" to publicly release from May onwards the "draw probability of all virtual items and services".

The law also banned game publishers from directly selling "lottery tickets" such as loot boxes. In June , Blizzard Entertainment announced that, "in line with the new laws and regulations", loot boxes in their game Overwatch would no longer be available for purchase in China.

Players would instead buy in-game currency and receive loot boxes as a "gift" for making the purchase. Effective November , China's General Administration of Press and Publication prohibited the sale of loot boxes to users under eight years of age and restricted their sale to older users under 18 years of age to a maximum monthly spending limit ranging from renminbi to renminbi.

This was done not by introducing any new legislation, but by issuing a legal opinion that virtual items could be considered "prizes" under existing legislation written in to prevent the complete gacha practice in the context of baseball trading cards.

Within a month of the opinion being issued, all major Japanese game publishers had removed complete gacha rules from their games, though many developers found ways around these rules.

In March , members of South Korea 's National Assembly , led by the Liberty Korea Party , proposed amendments to the country's existing games industry regulation that would require games companies to release "information on the type, composition ratio, and acquisition probability" of items granted by loot boxes.

In October , Singapore's parliament passed The Remote Gambling Act, which introduced a ban on unlicensed gambling websites and fines for anyone violating it.

The law's definition of gambling included staking "virtual credits, virtual coins, virtual tokens, virtual objects or any similar thing that is purchased In response to games industry lobbying home affairs minister S.

Iswaran clarified the law in parliament, stating that "the Bill does not intend to cover social games in which players do not play to acquire a chance of winning money and where the game design does not allow the player to convert in-game credits to money or real merchandise outside the game".

The minister also specifically excluded platforms which offered "virtual currencies which can be used to buy or redeem other entertainment products", such as Steam , from the provisions of the bill.

The fact is that the line between social gaming and gambling is increasingly becoming blurred. What may appear benign today can quickly morph into something a lot more sinister tomorrow in response to market opportunities and consumer trends.

That is why the legislation is cast broadly. Within Australia, games with loot boxes would fall under gambling restrictions if they can be played "for money or anything else of value"; the question remains if items that only exist within game have "value" that can be quantified, even if this is related to an item's prestige.

The commission has suggested "an immediate R rating " for any games which feature loot boxes as a solution to this limitation. The investigation, which started in August , evaluated the use of loot boxes in video games and considered them under issues related to gambling and effects on children.

The Committee recommended that games with loot boxes be labeled to warn of parental guidance and indicate that they contain "in-game gambling content" and suggest that such games be rated to represent the legal gambling age in the country.

A February report from the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs that focused on Internet content that should be blocked behind age verification gates recommended that the Office of the eSafety Commissioner or similar body "report to the Australian government on options for restricting access to loot boxes and other simulated gambling elements in computer and video games to adults aged 18 years or over, including through the use of mandatory age verification".

The Gambling Commission within the Department of Internal Affairs for New Zealand stated, in response to a citizen's email, that currently in their view "loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling", but are reviewing the situation as it progresses.

In March , the UK's Gambling Commission issued a position paper "Virtual currencies, esports and social casino gaming".

Where facilities for gambling are offered using such items, a licence is required in exactly the same manner as would be expected in circumstances where somebody uses or receives casino chips as a method of payment for gambling, which can later be exchanged for cash.

In August , the commission opened an investigation into skin gambling. Miller further stated that even if other countries were to pass laws or regulate loot boxes, the Commission would still need to follow UK's laws.

In October , a month prior to the Battlefront II controversy, MP Daniel Zeichner of Cambridge, on behalf of a constituent, submitted a written parliamentary question "to ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport DCMS , what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games".

The government recognises the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and video games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market.

Separately, over 10, UK citizens signed a petition requesting that the UK government "adapt gambling laws to include gambling in video games which targets children", which includes issues over loot boxes.

The response also referenced the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations law which, according to the response "includes a requirement on businesses not to subject anyone to misleading or aggressive marketing practices, or, for example, direct exhortation to buy products, such as games content, including in-game purchases such as loot boxes".

In March , MP Anna Turley of Redcar asked the government to "bring forward legislative proposals to regulate the game mechanics of loot boxes".

In response Minister of State MP Margot James said that "PEGI informs consumers purchasing products from major app stores if they contain further purchases and are considering the possibility of placing these notifications on boxed products", and that "regulators such as PEGI and the Gambling Commission are speaking to industry to ensure that those who purchase and play video games are informed and protected".

The Gambling Commission issued a report in November on the state of gambling and its effect on youth.

While news outlets had stated that the Commission determined that loot boxes can be considered a gateway for youths to undertake gambling in other scenarios beyond video games, [] [] the Commission clarified that they had not made any direct conclusion, and only found that about 3 in 10 children in the UK have opened loot boxes in games.

James said "Loot boxes are a means of people purchasing items, skins, to enhance their gaming experience, not through an expectation of an additional financial reward.

And also, more importantly, they can't be traded offline for money. So I think there are big differences, and I don't think really it is true to say loot boxes are gambling.

The Gambling Commission issued a statement in July that they cannot oversee the sale of loot boxes in most video games as there is no way to monetize the items within the loot box, a core distinction from gambling as written in current legislation.

The Commission did caution that there are third-party sites that enable the means to monetize loot box items, similar to skin gambling , but they are not in a position to monitor those sited, and urged companies like Valve to take better steps to prevent skin gambling monetization.

In its final report, published 9 September , the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recommended that the UK government take precautionary steps to prevent the sale of games containing loot boxes to minors, and to work with PEGI to make sure that games with loot boxes are labeled as having gambling mechanics.

Further, the report stated that "We consider loot boxes that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance to be games of chance played for money's worth.

The report also agreed with the conclusions of the Gambling Commission that game publishes and developers must take more steps to limit the grey market of skin gambling.

The National Health Service director of mental health Claire Murdoch stated in January that the Service was incorporating concerns related to loot boxes and the mental health of youth into their Long Term Plan , but cautioned that "no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes.

No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end. In June , the Department of DCMS began requesting evidence from game companies related to loot boxes as part of a further investigation.

In February , the Isle of Man 's Gambling Supervision Commission updated their regulations to explicitly define virtual items as being "money's worth" even when not convertible into cash, explicitly bringing loot boxes under statutory regulation.

In April , the Dutch Gaming Authority issued a legal opinion that games which both sell loot boxes and permit the "transfer" of yielded items are illegal.

In its report "Study into loot boxes: A treasure or a burden? It concluded that while the loot-box systems in the six remaining games did not meet the threshold for legal action, they "nevertheless foster[ed] the development of addiction" and were "at odds" with the authority's objectives.

The authority gave the developers of the four unnamed games eight weeks to correct their loot-box system or face fines and potential bans on sales of the games in the Netherlands.

The authority's investigation was opened following a parliamentary question tabled by MP Michiel van Nispen in November Announcing the investigation, the regulator warned of the "possible dangers" of "addiction and large financial expenses".

Following its April announcement, the Gaming Authority began to solicit other European Union countries to help harmonize their ruling on loot boxes among the Union.

In April , Psyonix disabled the ability for players in the Netherlands and Belgium to open loot crates with keys in Rocket League due to government regulations.

The Commission stated that for loot boxes in Overwatch , the action of opening a loot box is a game of chance to receive items of some perceived value to players, and there is no means to directly purchase in-game currency to obtain a specific item, while games like FIFA 18 merge reality and fantasy by using real-life athletes to promote the loot-box system.

In response to the announcement, several companies made their games with loot boxes unavailable to customers in Belgium with no financial recourse to customers who bought or paid for merchandise in the games:.

Electronic Arts' games FIFA 18 and FIFA 19 were also called out by the Commission, however, EA did not make any modifications to these games; EA had previously stated in May that it did not believe the implementation of loot boxes in their games constituted gambling.

Durain's letter stated his concerns that "some observers point to a convergence of the video game world and practices specific to gambling" in his request.

ARJEL noted that items from loot boxes do not normally have monetary value, and even when they are traded through skin gambling, the publisher of such games do not participate in that arena, thus distancing loot boxes from other forms of gambling.

You open up a box and get items that may or may be what you want, or they may be worthless though, unlike gambling, you always get something.

This means that to get items they want, players may have to invest lots of money in multiple loot boxes until they hit the jackpot.

How likely is that? Publishers may argue that this is a way to get a greater return on investment so they can continue making more expensive, innovative games.

While microtransactions are fairly straightforward, many gamers suggest the random rewards from loot boxes may be a form of gambling.

In October , though, the Entertainment Software Rating Board ESRB , which rates games for age appropriateness and factors like violence or sexuality decided not to classify loot boxes as gambling.

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents game companies, asserted to Glixel that loot boxes "are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences" and that they aren't a form of gambling.

In February , the ESRB announced the addition of an "in-game purchases" label to physical games that have loot boxes, DLC, downloadable skins or any other in-game purchase.

But that may change at the legal level. It sounds possible that legislative action of some sort may be on the horizon, though that can take time.

Alternatively, vote with your wallet. You can complain all you want about loot boxes and microtransactions, but if you buy those games and make in-game purchases , developers and publishers will keep utilizing them.

If the Battlefront controversy is any indication, making your voice heard on forums and subreddits can actually make a difference.

EA has put a pause on microtransactions and removed some of the most rare prizes from loot boxes in a hope to calm fans, and that could have a big impact on how the next wave of AAA games implement them.

Michael Warnecke, Senior Policy Counsel at Entertainment Software Association, recently announced that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will require new and updated games that feature loot boxes to reveal the odds of receiving specific items by The best part is that those three companies aren't the only ones participating in this initiative.

Interactive Entertainment and Wizards of the Coast are also working on greater transparency for in-game purchases.

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