PEGI can't determine if loot boxes are gambling


You can’t make a decision if it’s someone else’s problem

Loot boxes are…a thing. A thing that has become a big problem in recent years due to their gradual advance into AAA titles that gamers have already paid a hefty chunk of change for.

It started out okay enough; loot boxes were confined to free-to-play titles. Then they infiltratedCounter-Strike: Global Offensive. Now they’ve invadedOverwatch, Halo 5: Guardians, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and Star Wars Battlefront II. With these microtransactions rooted in every big game these days, it’s time for us to ask: Are loot boxes gambling?

Well, if you’re PEGI, you tell people to ask someone else.

We reported yesterday that the ESRB doesn’t think loot boxes are gambling given that the player is guaranteed content in exchange for money, comparing the consumable items to collectable cards. However, PEGI – Europe’s version of the ESRB – has a slightly different stance on the matter.

In an email exchange with Wccftech, PEGI’sOperations Director Dirk Bosmans said they aren’t the organization that should be defining what gambling is.

“Our approach is similar to that of ESRB (I think all rating boards do, USK in Germany as well). The main reason for this is that we cannot define what constitutes gambling. That is the responsibility of a national gambling commission. Our gambling content descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it’s done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.”

What this means is that instead of talking to video game ratings boards, PEGI thinks that we should be asking that question towards gambling commissions. This might seem fine for Europe, but for the United States, there is no national gambling commission. There are instead multiple gambling commissions that govern a geographical area – usually a state. Doesn’t that make it difficult to institute bottom-up change in the video game industry?

We get it. Loot boxes seem to be making the industry a lot of money. That doesn’t mean the industry and regulatory agencies should pass the buck without giving their two cents. These consumables are infesting our games, and there has to be a better response than flippantly suggesting that it’s the consumers problem.

PEGI on Loot Boxes: We Can’t Define What’s Gambling, Only A Gambling Commission Can[Wccftech]