The European Parliament has taken a significant step toward cracking down on loot boxes in games, by voting to adopt a report that calls for stricter regulation.
The report in question was adopted by the European Parliament today (January 18, via GamesIndustry.biz) with 577 votes in favour, 56 against, and 15 abstentions.
Led by MEP Adriana Maldonado López, the report calls for the EU to acknowledge and take steps to act on several issues it identifies.
The report raises concerns that gold farming – earning large amounts of an in-game currency to sell online – may be linked to money laundering as well as forced labour and exploitation in developing countries, and calls for the EU to investigate its potential connection to “financial crimes and human rights abuses and to present appropriate initiatives if necessary.”
It also calls for the EU to collaborate with developers, publishers and console platforms to “help mitigate the risks of gaming disorders,” and makes reference to the World Health Organisation’s decision to label “gaming disorder” an addictive behaviour. However, WHO claimed it would be “challenging if not impossible” to document the behaviour.
The report also requests the EU calls on game developers to “avoid manipulative game design that can lead to gaming addiction, isolation and cyber-harassment,” and says some in-game microtransactions are “manipulative and exploitative by design”. As a result, the report demands “greater transparency from video games developers on the probabilities in loot box mechanisms.”
While much of the report touches on addressing its concerns with the video game industry, it also recognises them as “tools for playing and works of art with cultural value” and proposes an annual video game award to be held at Parliament in Brussels. It also says gaming can be important for education and can help to develop critical thinking and creativity.
Last year, the UK government warned the games industry that it needs to crack down on loot boxes or it will impose legislation upon the practice.
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