EU Parliament votes for regulation of lootboxes

EU Parliament votes for regulation of lootboxes

19. January 2023 by Andrew Williams

The European Parliament voted in favor of regulating lootboxes in video games on Wednesday, January 18, 2023. Lootboxes have been discussed for a long time and are quite controversial. The regulation is intended to protect young players in particular.

Thanks to the European Parliament, the European Commission will be more active against lootboxes in video games in the future. A majority voted in favor of regulating the controversial game mechanic.

EU Parliament calls for stricter rules

The report, which was adopted with 577 votes in favor, 56 against and 15 abstentions, calls for strict rules so that parents have a better overview and control over what games their children play and how much time and money they spend playing them. MEPs call for clearer information on the content, purchase conditions and age group of games.

Following a December 2022 report calling for stricter regulation, Spanish MEP Adriana Maldonado López pushed for regulation of lootboxes. The report called on the EU to work with game developers, publishers and console manufacturers to “mitigate the risks of gaming disruption.”

“We need to harmonize EU rules to ensure stronger consumer protection, with a particular focus on minors,” it wrote.

Are lootboxes linked to crime?

Part of the EU’s task will be to analyze the impact of lootboxes on players and in-game prompts. The Parliament also asked the EU to investigate whether gold farming in games (earning large amounts of money in-game and selling that money online) is linked to money laundering and forced labor.

Lopez’s report includes plenty of recommendations, ranging from systems to help parents understand how much time and money their children are spending on games to subscriptions that will be easier to cancel.

Gaming industry expresses concern about regulation

The gaming industry is not happy about this regulation. Many people in the industry feel that Lopez’s recommended regulation could leave developers without the resources to keep themselves going.

“Our industry is committed to a fair and transparent consumer experience when playing video games,” they write. “Regulators should protect the right to access these cultural products while maintaining the high level of European consumer protection.”

While the European government is focused on lootboxes, the U.S. is turning its attention to gamers themselves. In December 2022, several Democratic senators asked the gaming industry for reports on how they deal with online extremism in gaming communities. Supremist ideologies in games like Call of Duty, Roblox and Minecraft have been on the rise for years. Massachusetts Congresswoman Lori Trahan said games and their developers need to be part of that discussion to better protect young players.

EU wants to promote gaming

However, in the December draft, the four congressmen also acknowledged that gamers have had positive experiences with games that have been good for their mental health. The Parliament recognizes the value and positive effects of video games and wants to support the further development of gaming. Therefore, MEPs propose to establish an annual European online video game prize and call on the Commission to present a European video game strategy to help this creative sector reach its full potential.