Gaming loot boxes have been labeled “exploitative” by consumer groups from 18 European nations, according to a study.
The contents of the virtual boxes may only be discovered by playing the game or paying a fee.
Some feature essential tools or desirable additions that enhance the experience, while others are completely useless.
The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC), the report’s authors, claim that players are being “manipulated” into spending significant quantities of money on the chests.
EA has previously compared treasure boxes to Hatchimals or Kinder Surprise, two popular children’s toys.
Critics claim that the boxes are a kind of gambling because players are unable to see what they have purchased until they pay to unlock the contents.
“The sale and display of loot boxes typically include manipulating customers through predatory techniques, encouraging addiction, targeting vulnerable consumer groups, and more,” said Finn Myrstad, head of digital policy at the NCC.
The study has the support of 20 consumer groups from 18 nations, all of whom are urging governments to respond through regulation.
The European Consumer Organisation, which represents consumers throughout Europe, including those in the United Kingdom, is one example.
The mechanisms used to get consumers to part up to their money in games are “predatory, manipulative, and very aggressive,” according to the research.
It goes on to say that some of the games with treasure boxes are aimed at youngsters, which exacerbates the situation.
Banned in Belgium
There is a discussion about whether or not loot boxes are gambling.
The Belgian Gaming Commission determined that they were in breach of gaming regulations in 2018, prompting the popular series Fifa to withdraw its virtual money from the region. As a result, loot boxes may only be obtained through the game’s Ultimate Team mode.
In 2019, the Netherlands reached the same result, fining Fifa’s publisher EA €10 million (£8.5 million).
In March 2022, a court reversed the ruling, finding that EA had not infringed the law and rescinding the penalties.
Loot boxes in Fifa, which contain digital representations of genuine football players who may then play for Fifa gamers’ teams, bring an element of chance to the Ultimate Team mode, but they are merely part of a larger game of skill, according to the report.
In 2019, an EA Games vice president defended the company’s usage of loot boxes, saying to MPs that they were similar to Kinder Eggs.
“We do think the way we’ve integrated these sorts of elements – and Fifa, of course, is our main one, with our Fifa Ultimate Team and packs – is really pretty ethical and quite engaging, quite enjoyable to people,” Kerry Hopkins said.
However, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, opted the same year to let users view what was inside its popular video game’s llama loot boxes before selecting whether or not to purchase them.