There's a good chance you've seen the controversies surrounding Loot Boxes. We've discussed them on numerous occasions, and there's been a longstanding debate over whether they're seen as gambling. Shockingly, publishers tend to disagree, but they've come under frequent scrutiny from various governments.
Germany is next in line. Within the Bundestag – German parliament's lower house – they've recently passed a reform to the Youth Protection Act, protecting children from "risks from gambling-like mechanisms". This would apply for loot boxes, and any game including them will need an 18+ age rating.
Using FIFA as an example – a series that's drawn repeated criticism over its Ultimate Team mode – you'd suddenly find its rating going from 3+ to 18+. The reform hasn't passed yet, however, as it'll need voting on by Parliament's upper house, the Bundesrat. Pending approval, this could be implemented during Spring.
Germany's approach follows similar reviews across Europe. Back in 2019, EA backed down over FIFA points in Belgium, later receiving a €10m fine from the Dutch government last October. In the UK, they came under scrutiny last July from the House of Lords and we're still waiting for the outcome, though a briefing paper was released back in December.
Do you agree with Germany's proposed approach? Let us know in the comments.
[source eurogamer.net, via spiegel.de]
...which will make no difference to anything, because the only people who pay any attention to age ratings in this industry are the folks responsible for handing out those ratings.
And even they wouldn't be that bothered if they didn't get paid for it.
All FIFA needs to do is remove FIFA Points. Then all lootboxes are opened with coins, removing the gambling element as coins can only be earned through gameplay. But of course they won’t do that, as they make a mint from exploiting children.
I mean I don't blame them
I hope they do it.
Of course they would prefer to legitimise revenue rather than protect social harmony.
Here is an idea, why don’t parents I don’t know ‘parent?’.
We love to ban things don’t we but is there any chance a parent could just have some control?!
I don’t like loot boxes but where does it end?
Ban Pokémon card packs because you are trying to get cards and don’t know what’s inside?
Ban those eggs that have random toys in?
Because the kids who go too far with loot boxes will never be able to get an 18+ game...
Great news. And I’d also like to see a similar stance on all game currencies bought with real money. They are predatory and to 100% exist for the sellers benefit. For the customers it adds price obscurity that would most likely be illegal another industry did it.
This doesn't actually stop u18s playing them, but will absolve the companies of responsibility.
"We told you it was for over 18s only..."
I've never understood the mentally that these loot boxes are bad. They are exactly the same as collector's cards or sticker books in my opinion - my nephew spent more trying to finish his panini book last year than he did on MtX in both Fifa and Fortnite - which is actually terrifying considering how much he drops on fornite skins.
Anything that hurts loot boxes is good in my opinion absolute blight on gaming.
Kids can rack up tons of costs on them with credit cards (other folks not theres) etc because they don't seem to get the concept of non physical money or that they are being charged.
Angry Joe will be pleased.
I wish they would just sell a game in a physical box that exists in a finished state and contains 100% of the game!
Games are a product not a service and all this industry greed is driving me slowly away from the hobby. I only game on Nintendo these days because they aren't as bad as the others but I'm probably going to be a retro only gamer in the future with all this cloud bs they want to force on us.
Its not like i'm that old either (30) i just want value for my money and imo loot boxes, DLC that contains main story content and in game currency is a cancer that is damaging gaming and i can't stand it.
We need an Almighty power to dethrone the EA's Tyranny.
We have to annihilate the loot box practices, the real cancer.
@quinnyboy58 but they aren't trying to ban anything... They are just getting it an adequate age rating.
Hmm, interesting, but are the sales of 18+ games actually restricted from minors in Germany? Otherwise, this may not do as much good as they think.
While there are still ways around similar laws like M-rated games being restricted to people 17+ in the United States, it at least forces kids to get their parents, guardians, and older siblings involved in the decision (as well as informing them exactly why their help is needed to buy a certain video game), and many parents do indeed take the ratings seriously for younger children when properly informed.
In any case, this still keeps the loot boxes out of the hands of numerous children who have parents who meticulously keep track of the ratings of their video game collections as well as those whose parents have properly activated their Switch's parental settings. It doesn't matter if the kid still gets a hold of the game if his/her Switch itself is restricted from even loading it.
@Kimyonaakuma Some with good parents indeed won't be able to get it (or it will thrown out when their parents catch them with it), while others won't be able to play it anyway if their parents have used the parental controls. Not all parents are so hands-off with their parenting.
A very small step toward a lootbox free future
@Mr-Fuggles777 There is one big difference though.
Because of how it works currently any doubles or unwanted "cards" you get can't be traded.
With the physical cards you can at least trade with other people to get the cards you DO want.
But yeah, the whole lootbox discussion really make you think about all the panini sticker books and card collection packs that everyone seems to accept as perfectly normal...
@noutBr when we used to play PTCG or Magic it used to cost us a fortune, but agree you get the cards to play with and can trade/sell the spares.
Saying that I've spent well over £100 on most decks I've played (more on some), it's why we stopped - you were constantly chasing the meta and having to throw out full decks after a rotation. It didn't help that there were 2 of us playing as well.
@quinnyboy58 Exactly this.
Seeing how adults even those old enough to have a fully developed prefrontal cortex struggle with gambling this mechanic is unsuitable for children. They’re doing the right thing.
@GrandScribe at least when adults do it, they're normally playing for something useful like money, or their health.
@Jeaz "They are predatory and to 100% exist for the sellers benefit." The millions of people who spend money on these things would disagree with you.
@ian_beale and there’s an understanding of the odds when adults do it.
you know what l agree with that rating because a lot of kids stolen their parents credit card and take a lot of money from them for loot boxes. But 18+ still won't prevent them from getting the game.
Sorry, I misread your comment!
I'll delete mine
@Rambler it happens to all of us please don’t feel bad
@Balta666 ok but do you see my point about Pokémon cards for instance. Panini Stickers which was mentioned is another excellent example.
Yeah, thats great but still wont stop people under that age playing it, look at the 7 year old who gets paid to play Fortnite even though its a 12+ game.
Ratings mean nothing to anyone except the politicians who think it does
Kinda sad to see TAA on that pic :/
Loot boxes are evil.. only greedy company will do that
Loot boxes, should be outlawed. Restricting them by age seems like a step forward, I guess.
@quinnyboy58 @blockfight No, not exactly that. Loot boxes are gambling, and not only is it perfectly reasonable for a government to restrict gambling to adults, it is unreasonable for them not to. Like alcohol, a parent's view on the matter has nothing to do with its societal permissibility.
It's a good thing. Ideally the ESRB would do this too, but they're owned by the industry. Companies do take this sort of thing seriously (changing features of their games to ensure a lower ESRB rating and generally being reluctant to publish 18+ games at all).
They should definitely be 18+
Yes, selling games to minors ist restricted in Germany.
That does not only apply to 18+ games but to all ratings.
Shops are not allowed to sell a 12+ rated game to an 11 years old child either.
So what you wrote fully applies here too.
While children might have found ways to get around it (found a store that doesn't care; parents who don't care, etc.), at least it will create a wall for some children and raise an eyebrow for some parents.
@SuperKMx There are a lot of parents out there that actually care about the type of media their children consume. (And thus take advantage of time saving ratings which aren’t perfect but are close enough that you can avoid the worst stuff simply by eliminating 18+/M rated games.) Many of us grew up without those restrictions, but there’s a lot of people in this world...
@nessisonett "But of course they won’t do that, as they make a mint from parental neglect weakly excused as can't-police-kids-all-the-time"[/fixed!]
This decision, unlike attempts at vote whoring in other countries, at least makes a bit of sense, although @SuperKMx is right - a lot of parents don't give a hoot about the ratings to begin with. I've seen a dude shop with his elementary schooler of a son and outright buying him GTA 5.😏 Sure would like to think he's the kind to guide his kids through the analysis and perception of this stuff... but that kind is a protected species.
"Please verify, that you are 18 years and older."
No one: clicks no
Yes, a little bit different because there are some hurdles in terms of payment but kids are not stupid. Ban it altogether for video games, period.
@nhSnork But that’s a fallacy, if it was up to parents regardless then there would be zero age limits on drivers’ licenses, alcohol, gambling and prescription medicine. This falls under gambling therefore it should only be available to the over 18s. That’s how the law works.
@Northwind all EA will do to combat this legislation (if it passes) is simply sell the players in open packs - with players that have better stats costing more money.
The game is already pay to win so no one who keeps dropping money on it is going to care and will keep buying regardless.
This is good. I think having FIFA 3+ is a joke, it creates a false sense of security in suggests the game is suitable for minors. When you consider Pokémon Red/Blue on 3DS is 12+ because there's simulated gambling of fake money you know the rating for FIFA isn't right.
FIFA's real money lootboxes can be bought endlessly. Lootbox addiction can present a real danger to the player and that should be reflected in the rating.
@BlubberWhale I would argue that those parents aren't in the majority. You just need to look at how many kids are playing GTA Online, CoD, or the PEGI 16-rated Apex Legends to see that's the case.
I'm sure the age ratings are helpful to some, but the vast majority of people who would stop their kids from watching an 18-rated movie would let them play an 18-rated videogame because "it's only a game."
@nessisonett a lot of the stuff you list is controlled by other legal entities besides legal guardians, often more strictly so (although not infallibly either). Digital storefronts, on the other hand... are part of a more tricky environment.
At the gas stations in my city (not in Nevada but in the US) there is a little casino in a lot of them. You can play to earn "store credit" and you always see weirdos in the back casino room that smells like old socks and cigars. No one thinks it's suitable for kids to hang out in there.
Do it for all of EU while you're at it.
Age ratings aren't needed, here. They will do nothing.
It's also unrealistic to expect EA to remove something that makes then $1.5billion a year.
What is needed are preventions and self-care tools much as the gambling industry has in place. EA have tried to make it look like they're doing that by introducing a new feature that tracks your play and spending. It also lets you set a limit as to how many packs you can open and how many points you can spend.
I mean, you hit the limit and it says "You're at your limit, do you want to ignore your limit and carry on anyway?" and you can go ahead with a single button press...but hey...I guess it'll prevent any real legislation from turning up for another year or two.
@SuperKMx You don't think an M rated fifa would do anything for sales, cause I guarantee you less people would get it.
@quinnyboy58 don't know about those cases but from a quick Google search it looks like the Pokémon cards were competively banned due to balance issues so nothing to do with govern regulation. I don't see the comparison but it may be that I am missing the point
Here is an idea, why don’t parents I don’t know ‘parent?’.
We love to ban things don’t we but is there any chance a parent could just have some control?!
@SuperKMx @quinnyboy58 @Kimyonaakuma Why don't we sell cigarettes and alcohol to the kiddies, too? After all, the responsibility is on the parent, right? (Never mind that it takes a village to raise a child...) In Canada, at least, selling M-rated games to unaccompanied people under 18 will result in a fine and visit from the police.
I doubt I or anyone else will convince you. If you think your rights are being infringed (... or whatever your argument is), go out and advocate for EA and loot boxes in the political arena. I look forward to watching you try to convince parents and society that this is OK.
@quinnyboy58 Though what you're suggesting is around the lines shops should be allowed to sell cigarettes and alcohol to children and it should be up to the parents to make sure their kids don't get any.
If a business model is known to be predatory why is it even legal for it operate? Why would it become wholly the victims responsibility to make sure the multi-billion business doesn't prey on them?
And that suggests that governments are far behind the curve.
Age verification is just a legal get-out for the website.
It's the digital equivalent of fake ID, except everybody has it.
@Northwind I suppose its something they will look at, but while these practice keep making money they will continue in one form or another.
The only time I really buy MtX are when I get the game for free so GamePass or PS+ etc.
I can fish out my stickers from 30 years ago. Will you be able to look at all the "characters" you paid for in 30 years time? If so then carry on with comparing this to Pokémon cards and Panini sticker albums. Do not compare them to paninis though because they are bread based and can be very nutritious depending on the filling and should not be restricted to people of 18 years and over.
@SuperKMx You don’t have to argue that with me. Totally agree.
@doctorhino And I guarantee that it wouldn't affect sales in the slightest.
How many parents do you think are going to honestly look at the 18+ age rating and say "Well, I don't want MY child playing a...football game."
Lol so who thinks players someone might have purchased in FIFA 2018 will be worth big bucks in 2038?
Because pokemon cards will go up in value, but im 100% certain digital cards you purchase over a video game will never come close.
@COVIDberry You have very much gotten the wrong end of the stick.
I think there should be legislation that REQUIRES products that contain lootboxes (such as Ultimate Team) to be a) audited by a third-party body to ensure that the drops are truly random and not based on player engagement/activity/previous spending patterns and to b) contain the ability for players to self-exclude, time out, or hard limit purchases in the same way that gambling sites do.
As for age ratings...you can be fined for selling an 18-rated game to a minor in the UK, as well. Doesn't seem to have stopped GTA V/GTA Online from being the most financially successful media title of all time, does it? And is every person playing an adult? Or are the vast majority of them under the age of 18?
How many times is a 12-year-old going to the store to hand over £60 for a game? How many times is it going to be the parent that does it? And how many times is the parent going to pick up a copy of a FIFA and say "Oh, now...this is 18 rated. I'd better not buy this SPORTS GAME for my son!"
When buying digitally, how many times is the person even going to remotely pay attention to the relatively tiny "PEGI 18" logo? And without any sort of age verification in play, what's to stop the kid with £60 of Xbox credit from changing his date of birth to 20 years ago and just buying the game?
You've decided that I think any of this is "OK" for some reason. I don't know why. All I said was that increasing age ratings on the product was pointless. It's a vote-winning exercise and nothing more. I've said there should be legislation. It's nothing about my rights - since they wouldn't be infringed upon, as an adult - or about advocating for EA.
But I guess you're just out looking for a fight.
I’m so glad European countries are doing something about this! May others follow suit.
This is long, LONG overdue. And other countries ought to follow suit.
It's extremely hypocritical that in Australia, games that only vaguely contain "gambling" elements now typically get slapped with an M rating (equivalent of 12+/T) while historically, it used to be capped with a PG rating, and in the 90s, only games where gambling was the sole focus on the game would receive a G8+ (now PG) certificate for "Adult themes", whereas games could still be rated G is "gambling" was merely incidental to the experience. It absolutely wouldn't surprise me that if the previously G-rated Gen I Pokémon games were to be rated today that they would get M ratings (though previous classification decisions are still binding regardless of current guidelines).
So, absolutely, any game that incentivises real-world chance-based purchases, which is tantamount to real gambling, should be rated R18+ at the very least for something to the effect of "Chance-based in-game purchases" or simply "Actual gambling" (as opposed to "simulated gambling" or "gambling references").
@Razer "Lol so who thinks players someone might have purchased in FIFA 2018 will be worth big bucks in 2038?"
Anything to take away evil money grabbing practices like these. It should be banned everywhere including within mobile games, then games like Mario Kart Tour will possibly be actually fun as well.
Big budget games like the ones with loot boxes rely on a big audience. Chipping away most of the under-18 German market will make a dent in that. Enough chips like that and the loot boxes will become an uneconomic prospect.
I'm instinctively anti-regulation but I really think this is a good idea. It preys on impressionable kids in their formative years and is one of the less savoury developments in recent years.
And yet the Game is Trash the Gamble is the only good thing about it All Fifa videos are pack openings not How do you defend in FiFa............If the Age limit does go up to 18 Electronic Arts might have to get rid of loot boxes because like many here say they are after the Kids in a Predatory way. :facepalm:
What a good idea!
It may not change much, when I’ve seen parents buying their six year olds copies of doom, but there are some out there that will take notice.
Not all, but some. And a step in the right direction is better than no step at all, right?
@WoomyNNYes a step forward yes but it's minute one but it's a start at least
this changes nothing. when gta and cod are m rated and played by kids in junior high what will stop them from getting this
Thanks for reminding me about how pathetic modern gaming is xD
If it has gambling in it, they should classify it as Adults Only.
Sounds good to me.
It's not going to make the problem go away, but it's a good idea. You shouldn't hand something that you can dump 100$ into in one go to your kid, just like you shouldn't hand a kid a gun, it's a gun even with some kind of safety on it you shouldn't be letting a kid handle it.
Lootboxes in a full priced game is a joke
@SuperKMx go back and read the whole comment... 😞
"(…) you'd suddenly find its rating going from 3+ to 18+ (…)"
The lowest rating in Germany (and the one FIFA gets) is actually '0'. It basically means no age restrictions.
Also to people thinking that those restrictions don't do anything: They actually do something – in Germany. In local stores the cashier is not allowed to sell 18+ media to minors. If they do they face punishment. In addition, online shops also tend to have verification methods such as showing your ID card to the courier.
The Parents haven't to look at the Ratings, but the Stores have to.
The Ratings are binding in Germany and Stores selling Titles to Minor can get into big Trouble.
The Rating System got much more strictly in the 200X Years, but as a good Thing the Censoring and Indexing stoped.
@FantasiaWHT I’m not talking about micro transactions in general. I’m fine with that. What’s shameful that gamers accept is that instead of costing say 3 bucks for a skin, it says 300 crystals. And you can only buy 500 crystals for 5 bucks. In any other industry, you were force to “leave” 2 bucks in the sellers no-interest, non-withdrawable bank, they been laughed at and prosecuted. But we gamers are gullible idiots
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