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European Parliament calls for better consumer protections in gaming

Committee's list of concerns includes making sure developers "avoid addiction-feeding design and take into account the age, rights and vulnerabilities of children"

The European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee this week called for a set of EU-wide rules to protect game playing consumers.

In a vote with wide-ranging support (35 votes for, none against and 3 abstentions), the committee approved a draft report calling for better consumer protections, most notably around loot boxes and children.

The committee called for information about games' content, in-game purchase policies and target age groups to be readily available much like PEGI ratings, and for parents to have effective controls over how much time and money their children spend on games.

On loot boxes specifically, the committee wants "to make sure game developers avoid addiction-feeding design and take into account the age, rights and vulnerabilities of children," and suggested a child impact assessment on the issue might be required.

It also asked for the European Commission to investigate gold farming and the trade of in-game items for real money with an eye for how it could be tied to financial crime and human rights abuses.

Beyond loot boxes and children, the committee raised a number of other issues, among them data protection, user safety, and non-discrimination.

"Cancelling game subscriptions has to be as easy as subscribing, return and refund policies have to comply with EU rules and national authorities must put an end to illegal practices allowing to exchange, sell or bet on in-game sites," the committee determined.

The draft report was not exclusively critical of gaming. It recognized it as an "important sector" and suggested creating an annual European online game award as a way to support it.

In addition, it asked the European Commission to propose a European Video Game Strategy "to unlock the economic, social, educational, cultural and innovative potential of this fast growing cultural and creative sector."

For more on recent loot box legislative efforts, read our guest feature by researcher Leon Y. Xiao recapping the year's biggest news on the subject.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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