Germany proposes 18+ rating on video games with loot boxes

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
Germany proposes 18 rating on video games with loot boxes
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Germany has just announced that authorities will consider new legal reform that could implement an 18+ age-rating on all video games with loot boxes.

Der Spiegel reported that the Bundestag has passed a reform of the 20-year-old Youth Protection Act that could bring in stricter age-ratings for video games in a bid to protect children from the predatory monetisation techniques.

While the reform has not yet been approved, if it is, the new law could come into force as early as this spring. The law would mean that video games that have loot boxes will have to have an 18+ age-rating, citing “risks from gambling-like mechanisms.”

FIFA has been singled out by Der Spiegel as one series of games that could be affected. In its Ultimate Team mode packs of cards are sold in loot boxes that can either be earned through gameplay or purchased with real-world money.

There is an element of pay-to-win that is similar to gambling, as these packs have the chance to include high-value players. The newest version of FIFA, FIFA 21, now includes the odds of the packs, but the player is still wagering on whether they will win a valuable player in the pack. 

Loot boxes have come under fire in recent years, and the rapidly growing industry is faced increased regulation. Just this week a new report by Juniper Research found that loot boxes are expected to generate $20.3 billion in revenue by 2025. The scrutiny has come over concerns on their impact on young people, and some countries have already taken measures to ban the mechanisms altogether.

Recently, Brazil’s Association of Centres for the Defence of Children’s and Adolescents’ Rights (ANCED) filed seven lawsuits against major video game creators, in an effort to implement a ban on loot boxes.

This follows in the footsteps of Belgium and the Netherlands, where loot box mechanisms have already been banned. In Belgium, the Gambling Commission ruled that loot boxes were in violation of its gambling legislation in 2018, and EA was ordered to remove loot boxes from FIFA in the Netherlands in October of last year. EA is facing a similar lawsuit in the state of California.

The UK is currently undergoing a Gambling Act review, and while loot boxes were not stated to be included in the review, the Government did launch a call for evidence on these in-game mechanics launched in September. The call for evidence came in an effort to determine the link between loot boxes and problem gambling. If they have found enough evidence, when the review comes to a close, we could expect similar legislation on loot boxes to come into effect in the UK.