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Loot boxes with real-world value deemed unlawful in The Netherlands

Loot boxes with real-world value deemed unlawful in The Netherlands

April 19, 2018 | By Chris Kerr

Developers looking to launch their games in the Netherlands might want to avoid loot boxes after the region's Gaming Authority found that some implementations violate the Betting and Gaming Act. 

The Netherlands Gaming Authority (NGA) had been investigating loot box usage in 10 unnamed titles after concerns were raised by players, parents, and those working in addiction care.

It found that four of those 10 games are currently breaking the law by offering random prizes that have real-world value without letting players influence the outcome.

As reported by Dutch website NOS (via Reddit), the publishers of those four mystery titles (rumored to be FIFA 18, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Rocket League) have been told to amend their loot box model within the next eight weeks. If they fail to do so, the gambling authority could hit them with a fine or even pull the offending titles from sale. 

The NGA claims offering "games of chance" to Dutch consumers is prohibited without a license, and believes loot boxes are very similar to gambling games like slot machines and roulette in terms of design and mechanics. 

It took no legal issue with the other six titles as they don't offer loot box rewards with any real-world worth or market value, although the group still feels loot boxes in general pose an addiction risk -- namely because they're aimed towards younger people.

"As a result of opening loot boxes, socially vulnerable groups such as young people could eventually be encouraged to play other games of chance. The risk of gambling addiction in this group is many times higher than in adults," reads the study. 

"To date, the Netherlands Gaming Authority has not observed any suitable control measures taken by the providers of games with loot boxes to exclude vulnerable groups and prevent gambling addiction."

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