France Bucks Trend, Lootboxes Not Considered Illegal Gambling
The French regulator ARJEL seems to be going against the grain when it comes to lootboxes. They have formally declared that this particular form of micro-transactions is not considered a form of illegal gambling unlike their counterparts in the Netherlands.
Their rationalization for this is that lootbox contents don't have any real-world value.
The French regulator does point out that the lootbox issue is a complicate one and needs a bit more examination.
ARJEL recommends that European authorities should come together so that they can decide on the lootbox matter as a whole. This conclusion comes as part of ARJEL's 2018-2019 report.
The French authority while disagreeing with the idea that lootboxes are gambling, does agree that they can be harmful to children with their addictive qualities. Lootboxes are currently viewed as a gray area since people who buy lootboxes are always assured that they will get something unlike in gambling where people risk losing their money for nothing. The only risk is that they don't always get what they want.
The crackdown on lootboxes has been a long time coming. The Netherlands was the first to take concrete steps to limit lootboxes in a variety of games. Other countries like Australia are taking a long look at the lootbox situation in their territories and are taking steps to deal with it.
France More Tolerant Than The Netherlands
Valve, a major player in the video game market has pulled out its CS: GO and DOTA2 item trading option in Dutch territory. According to the Betting and Gambling law of the Netherlands, these two games had lootboxes that were considered gambling. Valve pulled out of the market under threat of a massive fine from Dutch authorities.
French authorities are more forgiving and have allowed lootboxes to exist in many popular games operating in their territories. The only limitation is that the developer should have no part of the sale of lootboxes and that no resales are allowed for lootboxes.
Currently, games like Rocket League, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds and FIFA 2018 use lootboxes as a way to supplement the amount of revenue that they generate. A lot of the lootbox contents are mainly cosmetic items that don't affect gameplay in any way, but a lot of players want the bragging points of wearing a rare piece of gear – which is what drives the lootbox economy.
With France, Belgium and Netherlands having weighed in, other countries will have to decide where they fall on the lootbox argument.