In the past five years, loot boxes have been the focus of many gaming regulators worldwide. While the regulatory status of loot boxes is still unclear in the EU, the Report of the European Parliament on Consumer Protection in Online Video Games: a European Single Market Approach, adopted on January 18, 2023, may bring some clarity on how loot boxes will be regulated in the EU in the future.
This blog post illustrates how loot boxes are currently regulated in the EU and explains why the gaming industry should already prepare for a possible ban on paid loot boxes.
Qualification of Loot Boxes in the EU
In its Study on Loot Boxes in Online Games and Their Effect on Consumers, in Particular Young Consumers of July 2020, the European Parliament broadly defined loot boxes as “features in video games which are usually accessed through gameplay, or which may be optionally paid for with real-world money. They are ‘mystery boxes’ which contain randomised items, so players do not know what they will get before opening. Players can access diverse types of in-game content through loot boxes such as cosmetic items for game customisation (e.g. skins and new looks for the player’s avatar) or items affecting gameplay (e.g. tools, weapons, levels, maps, in-game currency etc.) which could, for example, help players compete better or advance more quickly.”
Thus, loot boxes are usually characterized by the following features: