A new German law could restrain the access of juniors to games with loot boxes

A new German law could restrain the access of juniors to games with loot boxes
Loot boxes in games have been a touchy subject for the last few years. These boxes include special items or can also constitute newly “earned” abilities in games. Loot boxes are being considered close to gambling because they are thought to encourage the same emotional response in minors - the response of winning by chance. Some might even consider them addictive.

There is no unified law to outright ban or decide once and for all what is to be done with loot boxes. The situation in the United States varies from state to state, but there are no legislated bans yet. In Europe, things are a bit different. In Belgium and the Netherlands, they have already classified some forms of loot boxing as gambling and therefore restricted the access to it for non-mature audiences.

Another country is debating whether serious action should be taken, with Germany passing a new Youth Protection Act with which it restricts the access to games with loot boxes. From now on, only people aged 18 and up will be able to play those. The Bundestag’s law describes the “gambling-like mechanisms'' as harmful to children. The document is yet to be approved by the Federal Council of Germany, though it can come to fruition as early as this spring. EA for one have already disregarded the links to gambling for loot boxes using Kinder Surprise eggs for comparison.

According to specialists, the new German law wouldn’t mean a direct ban as in Belgium. Yet the law is expected to clearly affect the game industry with titles like FIFA 21 and their Ultimate Team mode which strongly depends on these elements. Games will have to exclude these elements from their gameplay or change the age restrictions for their audiences. Some other European countries might also take actions against the loot boxes. In the UK, some members of the government are thinking of proclaiming the loot boxes as gambling. These ongoing procedures may drive the big game companies to stand off loot boxes.

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