German state discusses the banning of loot boxes at federal level

The German state of Bremen has discussed banning loot boxes in many popular gaming titles at a national level. Two motions were filed in the Bremen State Parliament on the subject of loot boxes and in-game purchases with the hopes that they would be supported at a federal level by the Bremen Senate.

If successful then this could result in a landmark ruling restricting the use of loot boxes in the northern region of Germany, as reported in Buten un Binnen.

Social Democrats, the Greens, and the FDP coalition proposed several restrictions and are keen to work at a federal level to halt the use of the paid-for-elements completely.

What is a loot box?

A loot box can be anything related to a paid element to open a randomized package inside a video game. They generally take the shape of a box or a chest and come with a price tag before an animation or progression wheel fills up to reveal the contents. They are similar to the ‘Gacha Games’ seen in titles like HoYoverse’s Genshin Impact, which took in $1 billion from in-game purchases in around six months.

EA for example uses multiple different interfaces depending on the type of game a user is playing. Sometimes it’s a virtual sticker pack for a sports game or a weapon crate for a first-person shooter.

We reported earlier this month that video game studio Valve has taken in $1 billion in sales from case openings across 2023.

Opposition to the proposed national ban

Those in favor of banning these in-game items face opposition from the Christian Democrats Union (CDU). They proposed less stringent measures such as ID verification before in-game purchasing and pre-commitment to monthly spending limits at the point of registration for in-game purchases.

The German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK), has pre-existing rules alerting gamers of in-game chat functions, loot boxes, and in-game purchases. These came into effect on January 1, 2023.

They are present on game boxes, and online marketplaces, and the USK has a database and easy to follow publications explaining the need for these warning signs.

A Ph.D. fellow from the IT University of Copenhagen and prominent video game law researcher Leon Y. Xiao commented on the submissions from the coalition and that of the CDU.

Xiao highlighted a number of errors in the coalition submission and generalizations that were not backed by hard evidence.

It remains to be seen what the Bremen State Senate will progress with, but the issue of loot boxes and their presence in gaming remains a point of contention for many.

Image Credit:  Luna Groothedde, Pexels.

Brian-Damien Morgan

Freelance Journalist

Brian-Damien Morganis an award-winning journalist and features writer. He was lucky enough to work in the print sector for many UK newspapers before embarking on a successful career as a digital broadcaster and specialist.

His work has spanned the public and private media sectors of the United Kingdom for almost two decades.

Since 2007, Brian has continued to add to a long list of publications and institutions, most notably as Editor of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning multiple awards for his writing and digital broadcasting efforts.

Brian would then go on to be integral to the Legacy 2014, Media and Sport Directorate of the Scottish Government. Working with ministers to enact change through sport with institutions like the Homeless World Cup.

He would then lend his skills to multiple private sector institutions. Brian would win national acclaim helping his country deliver judicial education and communications during the pandemic-era. Earning a writ of personal distinction from the Lord President of Scotland for his efforts as the Head of Communications and Digital for the Judicial Office for Scotland.

Brian has returned back to the thing he loves most, writing and commenting on developments across technology, gaming and legal topics, as well as any-and-all things sport related.

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