Members of the Gaming Regulators’ European Forum (GREF) has decided against the implementation of widespread restrictions on loot boxes. The move follows the findings of a year-long study on the effects that video game microtransactions, including loot box offerings, have on gamers.
The forum is made up of 36 gambling regulators from 31 different European nations. At the time, 19 regulatory bodies have chosen not to implement measures which would restrict such features, despite receiving specific recommendations to do so.
The report on the findings carried out by the GREF compiles the findings of the research which began in September 2018. The report found that GREF members felt as though implementing gambling regulations on such features would depend heavily on the definition of gambling in each jurisdiction. It was published on October 2 by the French regulator, ARJEL.
Specifics and recommendations of the GREF report
The report explained:
“It is recognized that whether these activities ultimately trigger the implementation of gambling regulation, would depend on each national gambling definition.”
The report further added.
“[GREF members] highlight the need for involvement of national authorities responsible for consumer protection, health, education as well as digital and financial regulation. Consumer protection associations are encouraged to make recommendations in this direction: for example, the communication before the purchase of the loot-box content and the probabilities of obtaining a virtual item. Regarding minors, [GREF members highlight] awareness of parents, including the incentive for use of parental control in a systematic way; as well as the need to maintain a frank and productive dialogue with sector organisations to agree on more protective solutions, particularly amongst young people.”
Reaction against loot boxes
There has been a widespread backlash against loot boxes in video games in recent years. The likes of Belgium and the Netherlands already have bans in place on certain types of loot boxes. There is also a long-running campaign from UK MPs and a US senator to have loot boxes banned in their respective jurisdictions.
The GREF report outlines a need for major legislative changes in a lot of cases to help redefine the definition of gambling in individual states.
Despite the extensive backlash, numerous video game publishers are still focusing on the incorporation of loot boxes in their games. A trailer for the recently released NBA 2K20 caused a lot of controversy for being so heavily focused on microtransactions.