Attention ladies and gents, because the first domino in the lootbox controversy might fall in March! Two days ago Games Industry Biz picked up an article by German newspaper “Welt” about the German Youth Protection Commission examining the lootbox issue as a potential gambling concern. What makes this a bit more significant than your usual political rumbling and “looking into it” talk is the given timeline. They’ll decide the matter in March. That’s a very concrete 30 days from now.
And make no mistake, the original German article is very clear about possible consequences if the Youth Protection Commission decides that lootboxes are indeed gambling. First of all, all such systems could be banned from games. Second, developers and publishers might even get fined.
Why Could Germany Ban Lootboxes?
Now why could Germany indeed be the first country to ban lootboxes when others have talked about it, but never committed to further steps? First of all, the investigation was initiated by a university study concluding that lootboxes are gambling. We’ve had a lot of talk so far from scientists and lawyers that believe that some elements in games might be addictive and such. But an actual study is a different animal. Second, Germany has little industry to protect. The country has some publishers in the mobile market, but games are usually developed in the US and Asia. So the gaming lobby is not too strong (just don’t try to take away their diesel). Third, Germany is known to protect the customer first and care about economics second (again, just don’t try to take away their diesel).
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What Could Be Possible Ramifications?
If this indeed gets through, we’re not too sure what happens with lootboxes in Germany short-term. The most probable scenario would be that there’s some sort of deadline. And then it’s on the devs to either deliver another monetization model on the fly (unlikely), or exclude players from Germany from their games (more likely). But even more interesting is what happens to the market in general. As said, this might only be the first domino to fall. The European Union will likely follow soon, other countries like Sweden have also hinted at banning lootboxes. While losing Germany as market might not be too bad for the industry, losing Europe as a whole certainly is.
Of course much is speculative at this point. But no matter whether this will lead to anything after all, the lootbox controversy just added another interesting storyline!
Are you from Germany? Would you like to see lootboxes banned or would you hate to no longer be able to play your favorite games? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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