The Netherlands Rules on Loot Boxes and it's Bad News for Publishers

The Netherlands passed a ruling on the use of loot boxes in video games, and the decision is bad news for some game developers. Country officials found the loot boxes and some of the most popular titles to be in violation of its Betting and Gaming Act – meaning those games are breaking the law.

Beginning with a review of just ten games, the Dutch Gaming authority analyzed the mechanism and content of the loot boxes. The determining factor was whether or not the prizes could be traded outside of the game, thus giving them market value. This type of game of chance, said the authority, is prohibited for in the Netherlands without a gaming license.

Four out of the ten games reviewed by the authority was found to have loot boxes that break the law. Though the authority did not name the four games, a Dutch news broadcaster said they are FIFA 18, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Rocket League.

None of the four games mentioned offer the sale of in-game items for real-world money. However, the publishers of these games have not stopped players from trading their loot box items on third-party sites.

So what happens now? Will the publishers of the four unconfirmed offending games apply for gaming licenses in the Netherlands? Will they opt to change their game or operation in some way to avoid breaking the law?

And there is more: the authority is demanding all publishers with loot boxes modify certain “addiction-sensitive” elements like visual cues that say, “almost winning.” They also want developers to prevent vulnerable groups from accessing loot boxes, meaning it could turn into an age-restricted game mechanism.

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