The German Bundestag has voted through a reform that could lead to loot boxes and certain types of microtransactions in games being classified as games and gambling in the country. Which in turn can lead to the games being given an age mark of 18 years, reports The mirror via Eurogamer. The reform still needs to be approved by the Federal Council of Germany.
Loot boxes have in recent years become a recurring element in games where players can redeem points to get a box with random content, such as special looks or benefits in the game. The points are earned by playing the game but can also be bought for real money. The model has been criticized from several quarters for being a masked casino that is often aimed at minors.
Game publishers like Electronic Arts have denied this and instead likened loot boxes in their games to things like Kinderägg.
However, the reform in Germany applies not only to loot boxes but also to other “cost traps” or microtransactions which means that players have the opportunity to spend a larger amount of real money in the game on content that it does not know exactly what it is from the beginning.
Already in 2018, Belgium decided in 2018 to make loot boxes completely illegal in the country and give fines and prison sentences to publishers who do not follow the rules.