In brief: For all the joy video games bring people, there are plenty of negatives associated with the medium, including loot boxes, gold farming, and addiction. The EU has just voted to take action against these and other issues, though exactly what this will entail remains unclear.
As per Gamesindustry.biz, the European Parliament voted to adopt a report that “highlights the positives of this pioneering industry, but also social risks we need to bear in mind, like the impact of gaming on mental health,” said MEP Adriana Maldonado López, who led the report.
One of these risks is loot boxes, which have long been a controversial area. The EU commission will analyze the impact of loot boxes and prompts to make in-game purchases, taking action if necessary.
A Norwegian consumer watchdog report last year concluded that loot-box mechanics in games are predatory and exploit consumers. The report prompted consumer watchdogs in 18 other countries to call for stricter regulation of games featuring loot boxes.
The EU Commission will investigate whether gold farming can be linked to financial crimes and human rights abuses. The report also calls for the adoption of regulatory measures on games that allow players to create their own content to protect users, especially minors, from illegal practices. Moreover, it wants an end to illegal practices allowing anyone to exchange, sell or bet on in-game and third-party sites (for skin betting).
Much of the report focuses on the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system, essentially the EU version of the ESRB rating system. The MEPs want it to become the mandatory age-rating system for all games in the single market. It also wants to introduce standard labels for information such as a game’s theme, in-game purchasing options, and the presence of pop-up advertising.
Not all of the report is focused on gaming’s worst elements. It asks for the creation of a European Video Game Strategy to boost the industry and “help unlock its full potential.” And it proposes the creation of a new annual European online video game award and recognizes how games can help with education, mental health, and other aspects of life.
These are all just recommendations, of course. We’ll have to wait and see when, how, and if any are implemented.