×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

French Regulator Criticizes Loot Boxes but Says They’re Not Gambling

French organization the Autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) found that video game loot boxes don’t break the country’s gambling law, according to a 2017-2018 activity report GamesIndustry.biz reports. But, it’s not exactly complimentary toward them either.

Gambling is generally prohibited in France unless it’s expressly permitted by the regulator, according to Baker McKenzie associate Sebastian Schwiddessen, who wrote an analysis of the report. Only three types of online gambling are currently allowed — poker, horse betting, and sports betting. The ARJEL could potentially consider loot boxes gambling too if the items they generate have a real world monetary value, he said, especially if the items are likely to be sold outside of the game. While most publishers explicitly prohibit off-platform trading in their terms of service, the ARJEL said “a certain number of investigations are in progress.”

Like South Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium, the ARJEL began investigating loot boxes after widespread controversy last year over how they’re implemented in video games, especially full-priced AAA titles like “Star Wars Battlefront II” and “Destiny 2.” “Battlefront II” fans were particularly outraged, calling EA’s microtransactions unfair and exploitative. They blasted the publisher on Reddit, giving it the most downvoted comment in the website’s history. EA also reportedly lost an estimated $3.1 billion in stock value at the time. Hawaii state representative Chris Lee allegedly called the game a “‘Star Wars’-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money” and introduced legislation that would prohibit selling video games with loot boxes to people under the age of 21.

While loot boxes might not fall under the legal definition of gambling in France, the ARJEL voted for a combined and coordinated action on them. It said they can serve as a gambling “apprenticeship” for young people. It also criticized the fact that minors can play games containing loot boxes without any age verification, and that the random number generator responsible for determining loot box items is not transparent to the player.

But, while the ARJEL’s comments are critical, Schwiddessen said they’re also non-committal and unspecific. “Altogether it is unlikely that any concrete actions will follow,” he said.

Popular on Variety

More Gaming

  • Google Stadia Game Streaming Service Launching

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service Will Launch Nov. 19

    Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh gave us an update on the company’s game streaming service Stadia during the company’s fall hardware event in New York Tuesday: Stadia will be available to the public on Nov. 19. Stadia promises to stream games directly from the cloud, with no need to buy a full-blown game console. Consumers [...]

  • Fortnite Chapter 2

    'Fortnite' Emerges From Black Hole With All-New Island in Chapter 2

    After its previous world was sucked into a black hole, “Fortnite” is back — with an all-new island featuring a map with 13 different locations. The latest installment of the free-to-play battle royale game, which publisher Epic Games calls the first season of “Fortnite” Chapter 2, went live early Tuesday at around 6 a.m. ET. [...]

  • Fortnite-Season-X-Out-of-Time

    'Fortnite' Goes Dark: A Masterful Marketing Stroke by Epic Games

    On Sunday, “Fortnite” — the most popular game on Earth right now — without warning, imploded into darkness. At around 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 13, a meteor in Season 10 of “Fortnite” that had been biding its time set off a cataclysmic chain reaction that sucked up everything on the the island and eventually [...]

  • Hearthstone video game

    Blizzard Reinstates Hong Kong Gamer's Prize but Reaffirms Censure of His Speech

    Major U.S. gaming firm Blizzard Entertainment has reduced its punishment for a professional gamer who shouted a slogan in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. But the company doubled down on its verdict about the inappropriateness of his conduct. In a Chinese language-only message on its official social media, Blizzard stated that it would “resolutely [...]

  • Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Stock Recovers From Hong Kong Fallout

    Activision Blizzard saw its stock recover Friday despite continued backlash over its decision to punish a “Hearthstone” player for publicly siding with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. The company’s share price was up more than 2% Friday, closing at $54.82. Activision had been in the spotlight ever since Ng Wai Chung, a player of its “Hearthstone” [...]

  • Mixer Co-Founders Leave Microsoft's Twitch Competitor

    Microsoft’s Mixer Streaming Service Loses Its Two Co-Founders

    Microsoft’s Twitch competitor Mixer has lots its two co-founders: Both Matt Salsamendi and James J. Boehm, who co-founded the startup that eventually became Mixer in 2011, have both left the company over the past 2 weeks. The departure comes just a few weeks after Mixer poached famed video game streamer Ninja from Amazon’s Twitch. Salsamendi [...]

  • Trump-Twitch-channel

    Donald Trump Is Now on Amazon's Twitch Streaming Service

    Donald Trump has joined Twitch, the game-focused live-streaming service, apparently in an effort to widen his unfiltered 2020 reelection messaging as the embattled U.S. president faces a fast-moving impeachment inquiry. Trump’s first Twitch broadcast was from his campaign rally Thursday in Minneapolis, where among other targets he lashed out at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Somali [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content