Sweden becomes the newest country that plans to investigate loot boxes in video games. Ardalan Shekarabi, who is Sweden’s Minister for Public Administration, has asked the Swedish Consumer Agency (SCA) to review loot boxes to see if they should be considered as gambling.
The Swedish Consumer Agency will be taking a look at loot boxes in video games and will make a decision about whether or not loot boxes are gambling or are like lotteries or casinos. The SCA will also be investigating whether there are enough protections in place to keep players safe and if younger players are being targeted by video game loot boxes. The SCA will reveal the findings of the investigation in October.
Swedish games industry group (Dataspelsbranschen) spokesperson Per Strömbäck has issued a statement, saying that the industry “welcome[s]” the investigation. Strömbäck and the industry also agree that video game loot boxes are an issue of consumer protection and not gambling and it welcomes “support and guidance in protecting the consumers.”
It’s unclear what the SCA may say once its investigation has been completed. There have been other investigations like this in other European countries. Belgium decided that video game loot boxes are gambling and suggested that it would pursue any games company that didn’t comply with gambling law or make a change (several studios did remove loot boxes from their games).
However, the UK Gambling Commission said that loot boxes aren’t gambling. While the UK government did say that it would watch developments closely, the stance on the issue meant that studios would not have to make any changes to their games in the UK. This is the outcome that the Swedish games industry would probably prefer, but the SCA’s feelings are not confirmed yet.
As more studies are done about loot boxes it means that the loot box debate won’t be going away for quite some time. A new study published this month revealed that video game loot boxes may lead to gambling addiction in adults, with the researchers also saying that they would like to investigate the effects that loot boxes have on children. More research that does suggest that loot boxes are gambling or can lead to more gambling behavior for children or adults may lead more governments to take actions to begin investigations, just as Sweden has.
Source: CalvinAyre, GamesIndustry.biz