A French senator recently penned a letter to France’s gambling regulators to voice his concerns on the growing trend of loot boxes and microtransactions in video games.
In a letter that was addressed to the president of ARJEL, the French organization responsible for regulating gambling, senator Jérôme Durain began by commending the cultural diversity and growing influence of video games and the growing esports industry. His letter was translated on Reddit where he specifically referenced the controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II before moving on to the topic of the discussion: Loot boxes and in-game purchases.
“While I do not think it is necessary at this stage to put in place specific legislation, I wonder about the desirability of providing consumer protection in this area,” Durain said. “The use of loot boxes conferring cosmetic additions to the games seems well-accepted by the public. The development of so-called pay-to-win practices is more contentious, as shown by the recent controversy over the game Star Wars Battlefront 2. Quite aside from the acceptance of the practice, some observers point to a convergence of the video game world and practices specific to gambling.”
Demonstrating an understanding of other country’s practices such as China requiring games to reveal the drop rates of their in-game items and Belgium’s gambling investigation, Durain inquired as to whether the ARJEL had considered similar measures.
“Transparency is not common with regard to statistics governing loot boxes, even though good practices sometimes exist,” Durain continued. “China has decided in favour of a transparency of win ratios. Some of our European neighbours (the United Kingdom and Belgium in particular) are looking into the matter through their regulatory authorities. So we see that the question is not unique to France. Does ARJEL have the infrastructure necessary for a general census of win ratios for micro transactions?”
Durain closed his letter by adding that he’d also written to several other video game-related organizations in France while remaining conscious of the ongoing loot box discussion between companies, consumers, and government bodies. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of a response the senator gets from the ARJEL and the other organizations, but it’s refreshing for many to see the gambling discussion gaining traction with help from a politician who seems to have a sound understanding of the situation.