Loot Boxes facing Increased Pressure from Governments
It’s fair to say that the launch of Star Wars Battlefront II has not gone according to plan for Electronic Arts (EA). Following massive backlash from the gaming community over the loot boxes found in-game, several governments have also started taking a close look at the practice of using loot boxes in video games. Governments from the United States, Europe, and Australia have had harsh words about the practice, and this could cause massive problems for video game developers.
Belgian Gambling Commission Investigating Loot Boxes
A loot box is a virtual box that contains a selection of randomly generated in-game items. The issue has now become whether loot boxes should be classified as gambling. The ESRB originally said no, as players are guaranteed to receive some items in each loot box they pay for, even it if it’s not what they want.
However, the Belgian Gaming Commission has started looking into the system and whether it is gambling. The investigation has been completed and it has determined loot boxes are a form of gambling. There is also concern that mixing video games and gambling will be very bad for children. While some agree that loot crates are not technically gambling, there is also evidence to suggest that they can be just as addictive for some people.
Hawaii Has Harsh Words for EA & Loot Boxes
It’s not just happening in Europe. Some states in America have spoken out about these loot boxes. One of the most outspoken is Hawaii. A state representative described the way loot crates were implemented in Battlefront II as predatory behaviour by EA. The representative also referred to the game as a ‘Star Wars-themed online casino’ which would lure children into spending money. Hawaii also warned parents about the situation with Battlefront II.
Loot boxes were originally mainly found in free-to-play mobile games, but they started finding their way into mainstream $60 Triple-A games. While most people don’t have an issue with them, when the items contained in the loot boxes are just cosmetic, Battlefront II gave player actual in-game advantages to players who received the right items from the loot boxes. His created fears that the game would be pay-to-win, essentially meaning players would need to spend money on loot crates to try and compete with players who already had.
Time will tell how this whole situation turns out, but having governments looking at how loot boxes affect children and those prone to gambling addiction, is certainly not what EA wanted. In addition, the game has sold 60% less copies than the Star Wars Battlefront; EA released in 2015.