The Netherlands has long been threatening action against loot loxes. Now, the country’s new laws have drawn first blood with Valve. Dutch players of Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Dota 2 today were greeted with the same message from Valve.
Valve’s message to players essentially explains that the company has pulled item trading and Steam Marketplace transactions for both titles. This comes after the Netherlands decided to prosecute video game companies who did not change their loot box designs by the 20th of June.
The statement from Valve can be read below:
Indeed, Dutch authorities claimed that back in April, there were four titles that broke the Betting and Gambling laws of the Netherlands. If a game features loot boxes, with items rewarded purely by chance that can then be traded outside of the game, these items then have a market value and can be considered gambling.
Valve Forced to Pull Item Trading and Steam Marketplace, What Could Happen if Others Don’t Follow Suit?
While Valve does not agree with Dutch rulings on loot boxes, there was no choice but to remove item trading and Steam Marketplace from CS:GO and Dota 2. Prosecution would have followed if Valve didn’t act.
Yesterday, a press release was issued by the Dutch Gaming Authority. In it, loose threats were made. If companies haven’t altered their games by today, they might just fall afoul. The Gaming Authority can impose administrative fines of up to €830,000, or 10% of the company’s worldwide turnover if that is greater.
“Concerns at the Gaming Authority are mainly about the fact that there are indications that loot boxes encourage gambling. There is consensus worldwide that gambling can not be played by minors. An adjustment that providers could make is replacing the loot boxes in their game with ‘direct buy’: virtual items that are known in advance can then be purchased.”
It sounds like the Dutch authorities are taking this seriously. Games such as Rocket League, Fifa 18 and PlayerUnknown could all face the wrath of the Dutch Gaming Authority unless they change their ways.
“If administrative enforcement does not prove effective, the Gaming Authority can appeal to the Public Prosecution Service to prosecute criminal proceedings.”
Perhaps Valve will be the first of many that are forced into re-thinking loot boxes in the future.