The Dutch Gaming Authority has examined loot boxes in some popular games and has ruled that several of them violate the country's gambling rules, due to the fact that they have elements that can be found in the gambling world. The games that have violated the rules have been given eight weeks to make changes so that they comply with Dutch regulations, otherwise the developers/publishers may receive fines, or even see their game banned from sale in the country.
As you likely know by now, loot boxes are items of chance. Upon purchase of the loot box, you don't know what items you'll be receiving from it until after it has been opened. Some of those items have incredibly low drop rates. If you want to receive those rare items, you'll likely need to purchase a LOT of loot boxes. The Gaming Authority likens this act to gambling on a fruit machine, or playing roulette, but while frowned upon by the Authority, this in itself doesn't necessarily violate the country's gambling rules.
The violation comes into what players can do with their prize. If the prizes from the loot boxes can't be traded between players, the Authority rules that they do not violate the rules. However, if a prize can be traded, it receives an economic value when it is sold or traded through an external market. Rare items naturally receive higher monetary values, but by doing this, the game then violates the rules of chance.
The Authority took a close look at ten titles and judged that four of them were in violation of the country's gambling rules. These titles now have eight weeks to make changes to the way their loot boxes are implemented. If changes aren't made, the companies involved may receive fines. In the worst case scenario, their game may be banned from sale in the country. None of the ten games have been named at the moment, although the authority promises that if the four offending games do not make changes, they will be named publicly. Dutch site NOS
, who broke the news, observes that even if they were not amongst the games originally tested, the decision would apply to popular titles like PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
, Dota 2
, and Rocket League
In the future, the Authority would like to see loot boxes and their "addictive elements" removed from games, especially those that are accessible to children. Whether the games in question will make any changes remains to be seen, but we'll be sure to know the outcome in eight weeks time.