The Spanish government has announced its intent to regulate the use of loot boxes in video games, with the intent to curtail “thoughtless, compulsive or even pathological” consumer behavior among players.
The legislation being proposed by Consumer Minister Alberto Garzon will apparently be part of regulation targeting digital items that have financial value in a real or virtual market. This would also cover the sale and distribution of blockchain-backed goods like NFTs.
According to Reuters, Garzon said that the regulation will still allow players to “have fun” while protecting vulnerable users. This refers to the possible link between players who spend large amounts of money on randomized loot boxes and conventional gambling addiction.
Three in 10 Spanish students apparently spent money on in-game purchases in 2021.
Spain joins the ranks of other European governments like Belgium and the Netherlands in regulating the use of loot boxes in games that can be played within its borders. Belgium and the Netherlands have strictly banned the practice; it’s unclear if Spain will do the same.
Earlier this year, Blizzard Entertainment was forced to cancel the release of Diablo Immortal in Belgium and the Netherlands for fears that it would run afoul of those country’s regulations.
Legal efforts to restrict the use of loot boxes have also emerged in the United Kingdom and Canada, though neither company has formally taken up any bans on the game mechanic. U.S. lawmakers have also expressed interest in investigating the practice.
For any readers curious about the link between loot boxes and addiction, you can review data from two U.K. universities, or read anecdotes from the folks at IGN that detail how addictive tendencies interact with the unlimited spending potential of this method of monetization.