German authorities are considering a legal restriction that will certify all video games that include loot boxes with an 18+ rating.
The legal reform aims to ease concerns over the susceptibility of young gamers engaging in gaming-based gambling.
Atop those in the firing line is Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise, which has garnered a lot of flack for Ultimate Team. Ultimate Team is a strand within FIFA where players spend real-world money to purchase random card packs, which can include players with increased stats. Sales through Ultimate Team reported generated over $1 billion for EA this past year.
Originally reported by Spiegel, The Budestag – a family ministry – put forward a reform on the Youth Protection Act, which would provide tighter restrictions on age rating for video games. The law mentions “risks from gambling-like mechanisms”.
The morality of elements such as Ultimate Team really came to light with the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, which launched with horrendous monetisation through its loot boxes. Gambling within games has been a grey area for years, but with The Bundestag’s ruling, the free-reign of such practices could be coming to an end.
If approved by the Budesrat, franchises like FIFA will have to choose between a lower age rating or the inclusion of Ultimate Team. However, with the $1 billion-plus yearly revenue, it seems hard to imagine EA ditching this practice.