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Germany will add loot boxs to the video game age rating criteria

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From 1 January 2023 German video game age-rating body Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) will start considering whether a game includes loot boxes as part of its age-rating system.

Last week, the body reminded that from January 1, new age ratings will be implemented for video games. The body specifically stated that the system would now consider “loot box” as an age rating factor. This is where players use in-game credit to buy a chance at winning an item in-game.

The body stated that in future it will be possible to take into consideration not only the content relevant to minors but also the online risks, such as communication or purchasing options, when determining the age of the product. The independent USK committees will now be able to check, in each case, whether certain usage features could increase the risk of children or young people. For example, chats within the game, or unplanned expenses.

According to the new rules, a higher rating would be justified if an item were to: “impair, or compromise” a child’s relationship to gambling; “promote or encourage gambling”, “contribute to desensitisation of gambling losses”, or “give rise to unrealistic product expectations”.

Other loot boxes

The loot box has been the subject of much controversy in Europe.

The products are banned in Belgium since 2018. The Netherlands tried to ban this feature but was ultimately overturned by a court. Spain had considered banning all lootboxes, but decided to only ban them for minors.

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