Star Wars Battlefront 2 microtransactions seem to have opened Pandora’s Box on the “microtransactions considered gambling” issue. Even though the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) aka the organization that rates video games depending on how offensive and gory they may be, stated that as they see it loot boxes are not considered gambling, country authorities of France, Hawaii, and Belgium has taken action to prove that microtransactions are harmful.
French Senator Jérôme Durain has sent a letter to ARJEL, a French organization which regulates online gambling with the hope that he can raise awareness for people and make them see this matter seriously. In his letter, he stated that microtransactions and especially loot boxes might be harmful to children. According to him, some kind of consumer protection and industry self-regulation is needed so as to create more transparency in drop rates from loot boxes. In his eyes, loot boxes and microtransactions are considered gambling and this matter should not be taken lightly.
ARJEL has replied with a letter informing where they stand on the whole matter, saying that they will have to address 3 major excesses:
- Almost mandatory transactions in the course of the game and which are added to the purchase price initial, without the player being clearly informed.
- A totally random product that amounts to introducing a paid lottery game into a game. This is the basis of the investigation currently being conducted by the Belgian regulator on Star Wars Battlefront 2. It’s also adrift from the usual pay practices to win: the player knows precisely what he is buying and can thus have a better control of his expenses.
- The fact that in some games, the player has the opportunity to resell in real money gains gained as virtual objects or levels of games, either on the game site proper, either on a dedicated site, in hopes of gaining money.
Where do you stand on the whole “microtransactions” discussion? Do you support the countries taking action to create transparency in those kinds of purchases?