Axel Weber, who leads responsible gaming efforts at WestLotto spoke out after Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), the UK’s games industry trade body, recommended restricting loot boxes to over-18s last week.
Alongside this recommendation, Ukie’s new guidelines presented 10 further loot box rules. These included implementing technological controls to access loot boxes, which would require parental consent to circumvent and increasing awareness about these rules.
Weber (pictured) says that WestLotto wants to see similar guidelines adopted in Germany.
“Initially, it is only a matter of a voluntary commitment by the providers – but closely monitored by the government,” Weber said. “So, that’s where the exchange takes place, which we also urgently need in Germany when it comes to loot boxes.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) welcomed Ukie’s recommendations, praising the particular focus on young people. DCMS established Ukie’s Technical Working Group in July 2022.
Weber says that research is a key prerequisite for the proposed roundtable talks.
“WestLotto is not demanding a complete ban on loot boxes either,” he continued. “But our social task must be to protect children and young people from gambling-like elements in games and to prevent them from developing problematic gaming behaviour as early as adolescence.”
One of WestLotto’s central demands is further research into hidden opportunities to gamble in video games. This is also pinpointed in the UK recommendations.
Evolving regulatory landscape
The regulatory landscape regarding loot boxes is evolving across the globe.
In January, the European parliament spoke out in favour of developing uniform regulations for loot boxes. Late last year, an amendment was tabled to Australia’s existing media classification bill that would restrict video game loot boxes to over-18s.
There remains a lack of guidance in Germany, but there has been some progress. In January this year, German video game age-rating body Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle started to consider the presence of loot boxes in its rating process.
Weber hopes to use the UK’s recent moves as a springboard to encourage Germany to address loot boxes in gaming.
“… we should now take this initiative from Great Britain as an opportunity to continue promoting the protection of minors and clear rules in Germany,” he said.