The Dutch Gaming Authority is investigating ten games’ exploitative lootboxes and has found four in violation of their Better Gaming Act. Dutch news outlet NOS reports that for a number of reasons, these games resemble gambling. As a result, lootboxes are in clear violation of the Better Gaming Act as companies don’t presented them as gambling. While this is an increasingly common contention, ever since Germany led the charge in February, the Netherlands are taking action. VG247 reports that four of the ten games have eight weeks to change their lootbox systems. If they do not comply with the act, the DGA can impose fines or ban these games in the Netherlands.
What part of the act are they breaching?
The ten games investigated aren’t all in breach of the Better Gaming Act. However, the DGA is criticising them for malicious and exploitative methods akin to those used in gambling. They point to many of the similar points made by the University of Hamburg, in that the low probability of rare items encourages gamers to keep trying until they win. The drop rate of rare items is similar to the rarity of a roulette table or pokies machine.
Furthermore, Marja Appelman, director of the Gaming Authority, states “they are designed as gambling games are designed, with the feeling that you have almost won.” She also criticises the presentation of lootboxes. Where a slot machine uses flashing lights and noises to psychologically hook players, lootboxes do the same thing. Appelman states “there are all sorts of sound effects and visual effects when you open such a loot box, so you have a tendency to play through and through.”
Where the four games in question breach the Better Gaming Act is in the real world value of items. Players could buy, sell or trade the rare items acquired through lootboxes through external bodies for real money. That means these digital items have a real economic value and players can earn money through rare items. As a result, these four games are in direct violation of the Better Gaming Act.
Which games are in question?
The Dutch Gaming Authority does not name the ten games under investigation or the four games in breach. However, they will name them if their lootboxes systems are not modified in compliance with the Better Gaming Act. NOS notes that games, which give a real economic value to items, include Fifa18, Dota2, PubG and Rocket League from EA , Valve , PubG Corporation and Psyonix respectively. Another game that would fall under this umbrella is CounterStrike: Global Offensive. As a knife skin is worth hundreds and carries a less than 0.25% droprate, Valve needs to reform their lootbox system.
The contacted companies have eight weeks to comply with the Dutch Gaming Authority before the DGA takes action.