May 27, 2022

Germany looking to ban Loot Box mechanics for underage gamers

More trouble in Loot Box town…

Loot Box mechanics. Love them or hate them, they are a common sight in today’s gaming industry, and some even say they are a blight on the industry itself.

Following several high profile fan pushbacks on the mechanic, (Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 19) not to mention the countless class action lawsuits companies are facing over the mechanic itself, Germany has plans to go one step further.

The Bundestag (Germany’s Lower Parliament) has passed a reform to the Youth Protection Act, which could bring in stricter age ratings for video games, including giving games that include Loot box mechanics a mature rating, meaning you’d have to be over eighteen to buy certain games because they would contain Loot Box mechanics.

With the act, the German Government want to ensure that minors do not come into contact with ‘buying incentives in video games, which is loot boxes to you and me.

If the reform is passed by the Federal Council (The Bundesrat) it could have wide-reaching ramifications for the industry.

These mean companies would have to state on the game box or in the download description that the game contains Loot Box mechanics, along with having a higher age rating on the game itself. So games like FIFA, which usually carry a 3+ or G rating, may end up having an 18+ or mature rating because of the mechanics, which would inevitably cut off a large proportion of the games demographic.

Loot Box
Games like FIFA could end up being slapped with a mature rating

At this time the law is still waiting for final approval but expect it to come into force in the spring. When it does, developers will have two choices, disable the mechanic so that they can sell the game with the rating they want, or leave it as it is and get an 18+ rating.

With loot boxes themselves becoming more and more a taboo subject, many companies are attempting to distance themselves from the practice. Capcom has recently stated that going forward none of their games will contain the mechanic:

“…Capcom believes that games should be enjoyed for the entertainment value they provide with gameplay, not for thrills associated with winning a lottery. We do not want to see games that are supposed to make people happy having the opposite effect as a result of excessive charges. For that reason, we are working to ensure that all users can enjoy our games fairly and safely.”

What do you think? Is this the right course of action, or is it a step too far? Let us know in the comments below!


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