Loot Box Controversy Continues

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One of the hotter topics in the gaming world over the past few years has been around the many different loot box systems that have been implemented – popular titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were able to build a market from the cosmetics obtained from loot boxes that had hit a supposed $7.4 billion valuation back in 2016, and other titles such as FIFA continue to bring big numbers with each iteration as player packs remain popular, but things could be changing.

The big rub is that many of these mechanics replicate what would be seen in a casino slot machine and the worry that it may promote gambling to an underage or more susceptible audience – online gambling as a whole has been seeing huge surges in new players as despite adjustments to regulation such as Gamstop that aim to limit participation options, many sites listing non gamstop casinos continue to become more popular, and the successes seen in the gambling industry as a whole certainly transition over to these games too – back in 2019 the UK had attempted to move to place a soft ban on these mechanics but was largely unsuccessful although efforts still remain to do the same.

The latest news has come from the Netherlands as a Dutch judge had targeted FIFA specifically – courts ruled that EA should be fined €500,000 per week until the loot box mechanic in their packs had been removed or changed, sparking the first big move against loot boxes. Similar had been seen across other parts of Europe as bans on the practice or adjustments were required to show the odds and winning possibilities, but nothing quite as dramatic as large fines. In terms of the market, this could be considered a small fish in a larger pond given the Netherlands only makes up a tiny percentage of players for FIFA, but if anything it does signal a period of change that could start to arrive as many more are becoming outspoken regarding the state of these systems and how damaging they may become if left unchecked much in the way they have been.

There’s certainly a lot of movement to be had within this portion of the industry, whilst there are calls for many platforms to be disabled entirely there are other approaches suggested that methods could be adjusted to make these loot boxes less valuable – the argument however is always that anything opened, particularly in a game with a large enough player base, holds a real world value and it was becoming more difficult to keep control of how these market, and this has been seen in previously mentioned titles such as Counter-Strike. There’s certainly a lot of change to follow the ruling in the Netherlands, and to what degree this may change the industry is certainly yet to be seen, but with these mechanics being so widely spread across all platforms of gaming, there is a large overhaul needed to reach each of these platforms in line with any new ruling that may be put in place.


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