The Netherlands Gaming Authority (NGA) has ruled that lootboxes which contain items that have value outside of the game themselves violate the country’s Betting and Gaming Act.
According to a post from the agency today, the NGA had been investigating lootboxes after receiving consumer complaints about ten specific titles. After the investigation, the organization decided that four of those ten titles had lootbox contents that could be exchanged for real world value.
As purely an example, since the NGA did not say specifically which games they were talking about, this could refer to something like a lootbox within PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The items a player gets from that can be of monetary value, even if the end result is not straight up government legal tender, it contains value that is close enough.
On the r/Games subreddit, a translation was provided of an article from Dutch website NOS, which believes the four titles to be PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Rocket League, FIFA 18, and Dota 2. NOS reports that the NGA has given the publishers of the four games eight weeks to either amend their model or face fines – or possibly pull the titles from sale in the Netherlands.
The NGA has stated that titles with real-life rewards are akin to slot machines or other gambling apparatuses and need to be licensed as such. You can find an English version of their report here.
The industry is quickly finding that European gaming and gambling authorities are going to be looking at their practices a lot more closely. Whatever changes are happening with the system likely need to come fast.