Loot boxes: 'Video game industry self-regulation isn't working'

Last year, members of the UK video games industry adopted a series of best practices aimed at regulating the use of swag in games. The measures have been approved, but are rarely implemented.

In recent years, many European countries have undertaken to regulate the integration of swag in budget video game models – those packs that contain random virtual items, of which you sometimes have to buy multiple copies before getting the desired item. In some countries, such as Belgium or the Netherlands, the mechanisms were assimilated to swag have been banned (because they are considered too close to the systems that operate in gambling), while other countries such as England have opted for self-regulation, based on good practice applied voluntarily to gaming operators.

Gaming industry best practices for self-regulation

We remember that across the Channel, parliament ruled that the swag they do not fall under the legal status of gambling (therefore they were not intended to be prohibited to minors), but that they could fall within the laws of unfair commercial practices. In other words, overly aggressive or even misleading marketing that promotes the swag subject to prosecution.

In this context, a working group was set up, bringing together experts, representatives of the UK video games industry and public authorities to establish a set of 'best practices' that might govern the use of swag – such as clearly identifying that it contains a game swag to effectively inform the players. In August last year, UKIE (the UK Games Publishers Association) listed here the fruit of this working group's deliberations and the eleven measures to be implemented by UK studios.

But good practices are rarely implemented

It is one thing to adopt common rules and another to apply them. This is the observation of Leon Xiao, an expert in its regulation swag and PhD at the University of Copenhagen, whose comments are reported by the Guardian. As part of his study, he examined “hundreds of ads” and for “more than 90% of them do not respect the good practices defined by the working group”. Ironically, the studios that are members of the task force and therefore helped establish these best practices do not respect them – and to mention Electronic artsHutch or Jagex (RuneScape), as'apple And Google who sell said games through them Store.

Faced with non-compliance with these best practices, Electronic Arts cites “human error” within its teams, Jagex believes it does not have enough space in its ads to display the required information, and Hutch cites a poor understanding of the practices that recommended by UKIE and the working group.

The threat of legislation

According to Don Foster, Member of the House of Lords responsible for gambling, it is above all “absolutely clear that self-regulation [par les membres de l’industrie du jeu vidéo eux-mêmes] is not working and that the government must step in to regulate effectively swag and their marketing, for the protection of children. According to the spokesman for the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport, members of the gaming industry “need to do more to protect young people and adults from abuse linked to swag ” and as a threat, he does not intend to rule out “future legislative options” aimed at restricting the industry.

For its part, UKIE pleads good faith and emphasizes that the industry is in the process of complying with the working group's good practice: the target should be met by next July (just under “one year after the publication of its conclusions) . The association also recalls that the gaming industry wants to be “responsible” and has a long tradition of self-regulation – which has notably enabled the creation of game rating tools or the generalization of parental control tools, for example. Whether this responsible nature also applies to the economic model remains to be determined.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *