The recent global clampdown on gambling ‘what or whatnots?’ seems to have caught up with the most unlikely target, the Video Game Industry. With the insistence of international lawmakers that loot boxes be declared as gambling odds, the gaming industry may just be on the brink of conceding.
Major stakeholders in the industry may be forced to agree to the mounting pressure as a way of discouraging further scrutiny and stringent measures on the industry.
In a recent press release made by the Federal Trade Commission in the US, the possibility of the change was announced despite no formal adherence. Global gaming software regulator, Entertainment Software Association (ESA) also spoke about the possibility of the change. This they said was for the good of the customers and industry in general.
The body, as at last year, also included in its rating requirements that game producers having purchase features should include on their packaging label “in-game purchases”. This decision was reached amidst already mounting pressure from lawmakers.
Top stakeholders such as Sony Interactive Entertainment, owners of the PlayStation franchise; Microsoft, owners of windows and the Xbox series; and several other gaming software and hardware producers are all involved.
These companies are already taking steps on making the details of purchasable in-game tweaks more accessible to their consumers.
The major point of debate between industry representatives and opposing lawmakers has been on the subject of what gambling is. In general terms, gambling is termed as giving money or any valuable item in exchange for the possibility of winning something.
With the emphasis being on ‘possibility’, the industry maintains that while gambling doesn’t always guarantee that anything is won, players always win something from loot boxes.
They further stressed that, though prizes won from loot boxes may vary in value to the players, whether it be a power-up, magic potion or scarce weapon, there is always a reward for the exchange.
At the moment, different countries around the world are still divided over the issue of whether loot boxes are a form of gambling or not. On the one hand, countries like France and the United Kingdom (consisting of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) do not agree that they are.
Other countries like Belgium and Australia agree that loot boxes are a form of gambling. However, the United States is still sitting on the fence on the matter.
As expected, this divide in opinions has left the Video Game Industry distressed as it tries to decide what way to go. It has to appeal to a throbbing international market while still following different local laws.
In response, some companies such as Rocket League have reacted to the clampdown by removing loot boxes from their software. Others like EA Games have insisted on keeping the in-app purchases.
Eventually, the time seems to have come for the industry to choose to either do away with this lucrative feature or list them as gambling odds.