French senator Jérôme Durain is the latest to join an ever-growing list of figures concerned about loot crates in video games. The latest controversy was sparked by Star Wars Battlefront II‘s microtransactions, which have since been pulled but not before Dutch and Belgian authorities launched their own investigations into pay-to-win business models.
In a letter dated November 16, Durain wrote to the President of ARJEL (France’s online gambling regulator), requesting him to look into the possibility of providing consumer protection in this area. While he doesn’t ask for legislation outright and doesn’t consider cosmetic additions to be a problem, Durain wants pay-to-win practices to be investigated, and specifically mentions Star Wars Battlefront II. You can find excerpts from the letter below (translated by Reddit user Artfunkel):
While I do not think it is necessary at this stage to put in place specific legislation, I wonder about the desirability of providing consumer protection in this area. The use of loot boxes conferring cosmetic additions to the games seems well-accepted by the public. The development of so-called pay-to-win practices is more contentious, as shown by the recent controversy over the game Star Wars Battlefront 2. Quite aside from the acceptance of the practice, some observers point to a convergence of the video game world and practices specific to gambling.
Transparency is not common with regard to statistics governing loot boxes, even though good practices sometimes exist. China has decided in favour of a transparency of win ratios. Some of our European neighbours (the United Kingdom and Belgium in particular) are looking into the matter through their regulatory authorities. So we see that the question is not unique to France. Does ARJEL have the infrastructure necessary for a general census of win ratios for micro transactions?
You can find the full letter on Reddit.