In the past week or so we’ve seen a lot of discussion surrounding the topic of loot boxes, particularly after the loot box ban bill that will be introduced by the United States Senator Josh Hawley. In the very same day, we also reported on new German legislation that aims to target aggressive mobile monetization for children, with a lot of input from a German lawyer involved. Now, according to another GamesIndustry.biz report, Sweden will also start investigating “casino-like elements of gaming mechanics.”
Although it was already established by GamesIndustry.biz that Sweden might not regulate loot boxes as gambling, there will still be some legal scrutiny of gaming mechanics. The Swedish Consumer Agency has been tasked by Sweden’s Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi with reviewing consumer protection measures for elements in games that are similar to lottery or casinos, in order to ensure there is enough leeway to protect consumers, particularly children, and young adults, similarly to what the German legislation is proposing. The agency was given a deadline until October 1st to produce findings.
The Swedish trade group Dataspelsbranschen (literally “games industry” in Swedish) is cooperating with the investigation, which isn’t quite common in this matter, with some trade groups opposing government oversight. They spoke with GamesIndustry.biz, and their statement is quite reasonable.
Speaking on behalf of the industry, we welcome this initiative, We agree that it is a consumer protection issue (rather than gambling regulation as some have suggested) and welcome support and guidance in protecting the consumers. The industry has of course already taken action in light of the criticism, through the introduction of new indicators in the age rating systems and in Sweden we are in the process of starting a scientific advisory council on responsible game design (not limited to business models).
Yesterday we also reported on the leadership turmoil within the ESA, and noted that the current chain of events with the legislation of loot boxes seems almost orchestrated. Now another country is joining the chorus. It’s unlikely to be the last, and we’ll keep reporting on this matter as the events unfold.
What do you think of Sweden’s investigation? Is it reasonable to investigate loot boxes, or should we keep the government out of it? Let us know in the comments below!