Sweden appears to be joining the German Youth Protection Commision in considering on whether or not loot boxes should be labeled as gambling. According to Sweden’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Ardalan Shekarabi, loot boxes may be classified as gambling as soon as 2019.
“We are working to regain control of the gaming market as soon as possible and ensure that Swedish consumer protection rules apply to all actors involved in gaming,” said Shekarabi to P3 News. “I am ready to ask our authorities to take a closer look at the phenomenon of loot boxes in the next step and see if there is a need to change legislation in order to strengthen consumer protection.”
Shekarabi went on to note that many gamers get stuck in an abusive (and addictive) cycle of purchasing loot boxes. In this case, loot boxes are very much like a gambling feature. The Minister of Civil Affairs says he will be asking the appropriate authorities and experts to look into loot boxes and create a new legislation that will regulate them in January 2019.
While Sweden’s Minister of Civil Affairs pushes for new regulatory laws on loot boxes, a State Representative in the United States is pursuing new laws to stop predatory microtransaction practices as well. Authorities in Belgium and the UK have found loot boxes to be gambling, while the ESRB and PEGI agree that they are not.
The focus on loot boxes and their similarity to gambling was brought around by the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box debacle last year.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2‘s November 2017 was marred by a progression system that was tied to the purchase of loot boxes with real money. The backlash was so fierce that EA decided to cut the cost of heroes in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 by 75%, as well as cut the campaign credit payout by 75%. In addition to that, microtransactions were temporarily removed from the game.