French regulator issues verdict on loot boxes


Late 2017 was hard to forget, as it saw one of the biggest video game controversies of all time materialize before our eyes.

This was Star Wars Battlefront II’s loot box controversy, as Electronic Arts’ game was going to include “pay to win” microtransactions, much to the disgust of gamers worldwide.

In the end though, EA removed these from the game just before release, even if by that time player outrage and a critical press weighed down on the game, with Star Wars Battlefront II not selling so well despite being a pretty good action shooter as we pointed out in our review.

EA felt the heat of the microtransaction scandal (perhaps unfairly so) then, and a French senator even brought the matter up with French regulators, claiming loot boxes in games like Star Wars Battlefront II constituted a form of gambling, and should therefore be regulated by the powers that be.

And while similar initiatives in countries like Australia and the Netherlands have met with success, with lawmakers in these countries ruling in favour of keeping tabs on loot boxes as they see these as a form of gambling, France has reached the opposite conclusion.

As reported on, the country’s regulating authority for online gambling (ARJEL) did not think loot boxes should be considered a form of gambling.

The reason being that the real-world value in money terms of loot box items is zilch, and even if a third-party ends up selling these, the game developer would not be taking part in a gambling scheme unless it was involved in the monetization, clearing the likes of Electronic Arts of any trouble in France for the time being.

But still, players feeling they missed the item(s) they truly wanted might encourage them to keep spending cash on loot boxes, something which makes the French regulator still wary of video game loot boxes, especially if younger gamers are involved.

Either way, it’s clear EA may have had enough of this loot box scandal to last a lifetime, so it’s unsurprising its upcoming Battlefield V game will not be featuring loot crates of any kind.

Microtransactions did return to Star Wars Battlefront II eventually though, in the form of cosmetic items (which most players surely have no issue with) and seeing how profitable microtransactions have been for some video game companies over the years, it’s clear microtransactions in general and loot boxes in particular are here to stay.

But as long as these don’t interfere with gameplay, and don’t let some get unfair advantages by paying for buffs in the latest games, everything will be fine and dandy in video game land in the end.

Read moreTop 10 video game controversies of 2017