The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) has called loot boxes in games manipulative and exploitative in a report backed by consumer groups across Europe.
The conversation around loot boxes and their resemblance (or lack thereof) to gambling has been an ongoing discussion in recent years, especially in Europe where 20 consumer councils across 18 countries have now shown support for the NCC’s report.
As reported by the BBC, one supporter of the report is the European Consumer Organisation, a consumer protection group that raises issues directly with the European Union.
“The sale and presentation of loot boxes often involve exploiting consumers through predatory mechanisms, fostering addiction, targeting vulnerable consumer groups and more,” said the NCC’s director of digital policy, Finn Myrstad.
The report itself said it’s “obvious” that loot box systems in games are “predatory, manipulative, and exceedingly aggressive”, especially because some of these games are targeted at children.
Activision Blizzard pulled the sale of Diablo: Immortal in Belgium and the Netherlands just yesterday (May 31) over the two countries’ laws that require companies that sell loot boxes to have a gambling license.
The ban was placed in 2018 and is essentially only intended to affect loot boxes that have contents which can be sold for money.
EA is another company which is known for its lootboxes in the likes of its FIFA and Madden Ultimate Team modes, but an executive commented last year that he can’t see the company dropping them even amid potential law changes.
Some U.S. politicians also took a stance against lootboxes last year by sending a letter to game companies that asked them to better protect young people from predatory game design.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.