Consumption asks for our opinion in the regulatory process of the “loot boxes”.


“The evolution experienced by the world of videogames in recent years has led to the emergence of new business models that have brought, in some cases, the offer of products and services in this economic sector to those offered by the industry dedicated to gaming. gambling in the online arena. “

So open the consultation that the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling launched on February 19. A document that urges us, as citizens, to give our opinion on a topic as hot as loot boxes. The direction is clear and, already in the first paragraph, the phenomenon of hybridization that has progressively occurred between the game of chance and the video game is addressed. In fact, this hybridization is the main argument used by the bill that Alberto Garzón (ministers of consumption) presented last year. The same Garzón confirmed a few months ago, in an interview with Xakata, his intention to prevent minors from having access to this type of content. Now the question lies in how, in what mechanisms should the employees be to reach that result. This week we learned that the establishment of a tax rate, or the acquisition of a license, is being proposed for companies that want to offer this type of service. It’s enough?

We have a debate for a while

The issue is terribly complex. From the outset, the body asks me for war, and I would not hesitate to carry the flag of honest design and the traditional video game waving. But, although I am not very far from that position, nothing is as simple as it seems. To begin with, I fully understand anyone who enjoys the recreational offer that hides behind experiences like FIFA 21 Ultimate Team. We are not here to distribute a gamer card, I have spent hours at Fifa like the most and I do not want to tell you how many I should take to Rocket League.

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IGN's History of Football Games
Fifa Ultimate Team has been accompanying this conversation for years

The subject goes a little further. In my family we are a few, the youngest of all the brothers now has 12 springs and I, on the other hand, am the oldest (let’s leave it there). I have been carrying out a tenacious exercise in pedagogy for more than a year, working week by week so that that boy of just 12 years old is able to understand what it means to spend the little money that he may be able to save, in the fashionable Fortnite skin. Don’t get me wrong, on many occasions I am not even sure if what I do makes a lot of sense or not, since sometimes I find myself wondering about the reason for this effort on my part. I mean, if he is happy to spend I don’t know how many bucks on a skin, who am I to insist that it is better for him to spend them on a complete game? Also, in this case we are not talking about loot boxes, we are not dealing with chance.

The first answer to this question is always the same: my obligation is to instruct my brother in responsible cultural consumption. Okay, but explain that to an 11-year-old. Indeed, it is not easy, and it is not easy because This business model has found the perfect configuration to always be within reach of the economy and the conversation of the smallest of the house. And be careful, I don’t think we should demonize him for it either. As companies that they are, their objectives speak of profitability and benefits, areas in which the compulsive consumption of the infantile stage has always been pursued. This is not new.

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A refined formula

In fact, we all know that it is not new. So much so that even Peter Moore himself (a former EA manager) has taken advantage of it, on more than one occasion, to compare the FIFA Ultimate Team business model with the classic football stickers. He does not lack part of reason, the essence is the same, but the mechanism has been perfected to the extreme. The product has gone from being exposed in a physical store to reaching the children’s room, the collections have gone from being closed to being infinite, advertising has gone from occupying television spaces in children’s programs to starring in content of some of the youtubers more followed by the chick. Definitely, we are talking about machinery as oiled as the best casino in Las Vegas.

Star Wars Battlefront II starred in one of the biggest controversies ever with loot boxes

Thus, when these types of practices come up against certain masses of fans, as happened with Star Wars Battlefront II, the situation may become so untenable that even EA itself was forced to back down. But of course, these are specific cases.

What seems clear is that the first paragraph of the consultation initiated by the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling does not seem to be going wrong. The boundaries between gambling and video games are, in some cases, difficult to discern. What comes to staging the need for a change in the regulation of these services, and a decisive action that alienates children from this market. What I do not know is to what extent an extra taxation around this type of video game can be useful, since I do not think that the large companies involved in this type of practices have many problems when it comes to dealing with the amounts that they can stipulate in the future to do with a license.

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What is clear is that many of us see the beginning of this journey as something positive. It remains to be seen where the legislative action that emerges from all this is heading. For now It is time for dialogue and we have been invited to the conversation, so I think it does not hurt to talk about it.