Gambling, pragmatic slot, and computer games have long had little overlap. Gambling and or online gambling is always about making money, but players usually focus on having fun. But now the borders are in flux. Game makers are looking for new sources of income given the high production costs. Therefore, it is no longer an exception for players to bet real money. However, there are many legal pitfalls lurking here. If you exceed your gambling limits, you must meet high regulatory and youth protection requirements. But where are the limits?
The biggest danger to game makers is that they mistakenly fall within the scope of gambling law. Gambling is so tightly regulated in Germany that you need a permit to offer or organize a game of chance.
Loot Box as a tightrope between in-game purchases and illegal gambling
The topic of gambling in computer games related to the loot box is specifically described. Unlike other in-game purchases in the online shop, players do not purchase the desired item, only the virtual box whose contents are unknown until it is opened after purchase. In some games, users can also find (“drop”) these virtual boxes more or less randomly at irregular intervals, but they can’t open them without the corresponding key. You can then purchase the key as additional content.
The random generator determines the content in the loot box, so the player does not affect the victory. In the best case, it contains items that are “worthy” for the game and actively enhance the user’s gaming experience. In the worst case, the contents of the loot box are useless to the player, and the investment is lost from the player’s point of view.
Are Loot Box Item Prizes Within the Meaning of Gambling Law?
It is the answer to the question of whether the contents of the box should be understood as a prize within the meaning of the definition, which determines the classification as a game of chance. Buy a loot box and you have a chance to win. But that’s not enough. As mentioned earlier, potential profits need to represent assets. Since the contents of the box are just virtual objects, you might think that they are not market relevant here and therefore worthless.
However, the items in the box are often of real money purchase in the game’s virtual shop, so they are of economic value, at least in the context of the game. After all, the player should have been able to get the item there as well.