Game developers reassessing loot box mechanics

News on 30 Jan 2019

As regulators from a number of jurisdictions increasingly cast their eyes on Loot Box mechanics and the question of underage gambling, two prominent gaming firms have wound in the practice.

Digital interactive gaming giant Electronic Arts Inc, under pressure by the Belgian Gambling Commission, and after an initial show of defiance, has capitulated with a press statement saying after further discussions with the Belgian authorities, we have decided to stop offering FIFA Points for sale in Belgium.

“We’re working to make these changes effective in our FIFA console and PC games by January 31, 2019,” the company said.

In effect Belgian players will be unable to purchase points to obtain FIFA Ultimate Team packs, but will still be able to access Ultimate Team and play with their existing players.

All content in the game can be earned through gameplay, as has always been the case, and players can continue to use coins and the in-game transfer market.  Belgian players with existing FIFA Points in their accounts will be able to use them, but will not be able to purchase more.

“We apologize to our players in Belgium for any inconvenience caused by this change,” the statement reads.

“While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities’ interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward.”

American video game and software development company, Epic Games, is, however, stepping up to the plate with an even wider concession, the removal of cloaked loot boxes in its smash sensation Fortnite.

The new update enables players to see what is in Fornite’s Loot Llamas before they buy following global concern that children are being exposed to gambling and addictive behaviour through the blind purchase of cloaked loot boxes.

In an update, Epic Games, describes the move as “Loot Unboxing” and said it has replaced its V-Buck Llamas with “X-Ray” Llamas enabling players to see what is inside before making the purchase. Previously, the game would offer the purchase of loot boxes without revealing the contents which could have contained rare or exclusive skins and items to use in the game.

Problem gambling experts believe allowing players to see what’s in the box before deciding whether to purchase will negate addictive or gambling behaviour in under-age players, a sizeable Fortnite demographic.

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