Spain to crack down on videogame ‘loot boxes’ blamed for pathological behaviour

Spain to crack down on videogame 'loot boxes' blamed for pathological behaviour. CC/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

MADRID: (Reuters) – Spain is set to become the first European country to have a law regulating the use of so-called loot boxes in videogames

This is aiming to avoid “thoughtless, compulsive or even pathological” consumer behaviour, the government said on Wednesday May 1.

Loot boxes are digital packages of virtual items that can be purchased using real money and are an important source of developers’ revenue.

They give players the chance to win desirable or often randomised game-changing equipment and allow gaming companies to make a stream of high-margin income.

Alberton Garzon, Consumer Minister, said “the government will, in a few weeks, regulate gaming features that offer prizes with an economic value in a real or virtual market and that can be resold or exchanged, including using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or cryptocurrencies.”

Loot boxes have introduced similar features to those of traditional gambling, including the randomness of prizes that have a quantifiable value, and a cost to activate the mechanism.

On its website, Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA) has published a public consultation before the elaboration of a regulatory project on loot boxes. The decision comes as consumer groups in 18 countries across Europe call for a definitive crackdown on the video game items, calling them a form of gambling.

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Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.