Several European countries have taken action against loot boxes in video games, and now Germany will follow suit and change how loot boxes featured in games are labelled. In 2022, the German government made a step towards making a legal requirement for such games to carry an 18+ rating. Since then, there have been changes to the legal announcement of this decision.
Background of the German law on in-game purchases
In the issued legislation in March last year, loot boxes are under criticism from consumer protection organizations and, of course, youth groups. According to a study, around 14% of young games were victims of rip-offs, frauds and cost traps. The German Government also didn’t take lightly the UK study, which shares the animosity of loot boxes around the world. According to the study, 1 in 10 young games is in debt because of spending too much on loot boxes.
The government has passed a law that proposes that games with loot boxes must be given an age rating. This could be a setback for companies like EA, who offer live games that most times contain loot boxes as well. What has happened since then? Will loot boxes in video games be a part of age ratings?
New year, new rules
Starting this January 2023, new rules will apply for new games that arrive on the German market. In addition to the content relevant to the protection of minors, loot boxes featured in video games will be the subject of strict rules. Namely, the game will receive a rating that is not suitable for young games.
According to the new regulations issued by the age-rating body Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK), the age-rating system will take loot boxes, where the player uses in-game credits to purchase an in-game item, into consideration. In addition, the new rules note that a higher age rating is needed if a product jeopardizes a young player’s relationship with gambling.
In addition, the USK is expanding the rating label that will appear on the game boxes. Apart from the age rating, the labels will also include content information about why it has received the rating and additional info, such as online chat and features for online purchases.