The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) Enforcement Committee has fined Activision Blizzard and Plaion for two seperate incidents of failing to disclose loot boxes when submitting video games for classification in Europe.
Since 2020, PEGI has required companies to identify in-app purchases in any game submitted for classification, as these are now included as part of rating labels in the region.
Activision Blizzard reportedly failed to disclose the presence of in-app purchases in Diablo Immortal when submitting the game, despite their prevalence. Plaion reportedly made the same error in its classification submission for the Limited Bounty Hunter Edition of Hunt: Showdown. As a result, both companies have been fined €5,000.
‘Both games were published in 2022 and although they contain paid random items (like loot boxes or card packs), this was not disclosed to PEGI when the games were submitted for a rating license,’ PEGI said of the incident. ‘Since this amounts to a violation of the rules described in the PEGI Code of Conduct, the PEGI Enforcement Committee sanctioned both companies with a fine of €5,000.’
Both companies will be required to update the store listings for these games, as well as any associated marketing materials for Europe.
In recent years, global classification boards have taken a harsher stance against the inclusion of loot boxes in video games, particularly as new research highlights their connection with potential problem gambling.
A three-year study in the United Kingdom recently concluded that children should not be exposed to loot boxes, as they warp their ideas of money and gambling in the real world. The Australian Government proposed restricting the sale of loot boxes to minors in Australia, for similar reasons.
As more is understood about the impact of loot boxes, it’s likely global restrictions will continue to evolve and tighten. We can expect to see tangible change in future, as game publishers and developers contend with more complex rules around classification and inclusion of gambling-like behaviours in games.