The UK and EU have had a long-running war against in-game ads and microtransactions.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has updated its standards on game developers’ and publishers’ use of in-game ads and microtransactions. Some examples include labels such as “Best Value”, which the UK and EU have been fighting for several years now. One of the previous controversies revolved around the use of loot boxes, which were considered in some circles as gambling.
These new rules are meant to stop ads that pressure players into making a purchase. In addition, it is also meant to prevent game developers and publishers from misleading customers about the existence, purpose, and total cost of an in-app purchase. While game developers and publishers want their games to reach as many people as possible, this may be a more significant bump in the road than one might think because these sorts of rules may affect the developers’ and publishers’ ability to make money in a certain market.
In some cases, the UK’s Gambling Commission might get involved.
While this certain scenario does not mention loot boxes, it is possible that UK regulators might revisit the topic. The ASA is unable to interpret or enforce legislation or fine companies that break their guidance, but can refer offenders to other agencies with the power to do so. The ASA also requested developers and publishers to include notifications that a game has loot boxes in them. However, a larger decision might be made by the UK’s Gambling Commission, as loot boxes have previously been considered as a form of gambling in Europe. Those in the UK who enjoy mobile games (which more often than not have microtransactions) could have more transparency while perusing microtransactions in the near future if these rules take effect.