Spain is going to ban them for minors and already has a system

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Spain will be the first European country with a specific law to regulate the ‘loot boxes’. Today the first draft has been released and we already have some of the measures that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs intends to carry out. Among them, the prohibition of loot boxes to minors. A ban for which an extraordinary measure will be required: forcing everyone to give their ID on platforms that have ‘loot boxes’.

What does the Government understand by ‘loot boxes’. The future law highlights that video games are not on the same level as games of chance. In this first text, the ‘loot boxes’ are defined as Random Reward Mechanisms (MAR). It will be the case “when the activation of the reward mechanisms cost money or other virtual objects purchased with money directly or indirectly.” The inclusion of “virtual objects” indicates that the rewards based on cryptocurrencies or NFTs will also be considered as ‘loot boxes’, even if they are not rewarded with money itself.

Examples of ‘loot boxes’ or MAR are, for example, those video games where loot boxes with prizes are hidden inside or exchange websites or applications that are directly a kind of casino. In all these cases, the new law will require a series of actions.

Loot boxes for minors are prohibited. As the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, advanced in an interview with Xataka at the end of 2020, the new law will prohibit access to those under 18 years of age to the ‘loot boxes’. “Many of these reward boxes are given in video games that may even have a legal PEGI accreditation for those under 18 years of age,” explained the minister.

For those over 18 years of age, obligations will also be added. In addition to the ban on minors, the law will require applications with ‘loot boxes’ to add a series of settings. Users will have the possibility of totally limiting spending with a self-exclusion system or limiting it partially, being able to establish game sessions with a maximum time and amount.

How will age be verified? Through the DNI. To carry out these changes, a new method of control will be needed. From Consumption they explain that this prohibition will be carried out through a documentary verification, by means of the DNI or biometrics. That is to say, the video games that contain ‘loot boxes’ will be obliged to request the DNI when paying, to check if that account belongs to a minor or not.

Goodbye to anonymity?. The new law at the moment is a draft that begins its public hearing process but generates multiple questions at the level of privacy and how it will be applied. Requiring the DNI to be able to buy is a big change, since currently it is not necessary to provide this document when playing titles that contain ‘loot boxes’.

Platforms like Google Play have been requesting information for a couple of years to verify that you have the minimum age. google explains that “if we find that you might not be old enough to manage your own account, you will have 14 days to set up supervision on your account.” For this process, Google requests the DNI or a credit card.

With the entry into force of this new law, it is expected that platforms such as Google will reinforce age supervision, to ensure that applications and video games through their platform comply with the law. It will be necessary to see if the rest of the applications or platforms carry out similar actions.

And the gift cards?. Another question that arises is with the gift cards of 20 or 50 euros to use on platforms like PlayStation. By needing the DNI, the door is opened for stores to have the obligation to request it when buying them, as if it were a consumer good only available to adults.

Regulation of advertising. The new law will also prohibit physical advertising related to the ‘loot boxes’, as well as online advertising in web environments not related to video games. As for television and radio, advertising about these rewards will be prohibited except in the slot from 1 to 5 in the morning.

Information about the prize possibilities. The platforms will also have an additional obligation with respect to these prizes and that is that truthful information must be given about the real possibilities of obtaining the prize. If an envelope or chest has only a slim chance of giving an interesting gift, this should be reflected.

Spain will be the first European country with a specific law to regulate the ‘loot boxes’. Today the first draft…

Spain will be the first European country with a specific law to regulate the ‘loot boxes’. Today the first draft…

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