The united fight against loot boxes isn’t slowing down. Following the recent news that Belgium and Hawaii are looking to ban the practice, it seems that Australia is also investigating the controversial system.
Answering an inquiry from a redditor called -Caesar, Jarrod Wolfe, a strategic analyst in the Compliance Division of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation said that loot boxes do constitute gambling “by the definition of the Victorian Legislation.”
"We are currently engaging with interstate and international counterparts to progress wider policy changes and to modernize and inform both Federal and State-based legislation," wrote Wolfe. "We take on board responses from the community, such as your concerns, to ensure that our actions are reflective of the risks these products pose as well as the community’s expectation. Watching recent Reddit activity certainly indicates the majority of the gaming community is at odds with decisions made by certain companies."
Echoing the statements made by authorities in Belgium and Hawaii, Wolfe’s biggest issue is the way these ‘pay to win’ systems appear in games marketed at minors: "The normalization of gambling vernacular and mechanics targeted at vulnerable persons (minors) is not just morally reprehensible, but is also legally questionable."
While Wolfe did say that "enforcement is probably not an option" due to jurisdiction issues— if the entities are based overseas, the VCGLR lacks the necessary powers of enforcement —he did add that there could be ways to discourage the inclusion of loot boxes by working with other agencies, who could potentially limit the games’ audiences.
"For instance; if these companies want to include significant elements of gambling in their products then perhaps we should work with the Australian Classification Board to ensure than any product that does that and monetizes it gets an immediate R rating," he wrote. "I could imagine that this would send ripples through the industry and it would support the objectives of the Gambling Legislation to ensure minors are not encouraged to participate in gambling."
Ultimately, this shows that more countries and regulators are ready to take a stand against loot boxes. Bad news for publishers, but good news for gamers.
Check out Blizzard's view on loot boxes in the StarCraft II promo video below.