More regulations in video games at European level? Despite sometimes heated counter-statements during the plenary session, the EU Parliament accepts the report by Spanish MP Adriana Maldonado López. Nothing changes for the player at first. At least for now. This is because the submission is only an initiative report that will first be passed on to the European Commission. And from their side comes a concrete draft law that can actually have a direct impact on video games as we know them. We have already compiled a list of the most important contents of the report for you, but also the The entire report is available online for all to see to disposal.
There is no question that video games are an important cultural and economic factor in the European Union. The members of the EU Parliament are also very aware of this. This is also supported by the fact that the report on the regulation of video games in the internal market is the second own-initiative report in just under three months. On October 13, 2022 was a Report on video games and eSports who also calls for more strategy and European support for the sector. However, less related to the content of the games and consumer protection, but primarily to digital infrastructures.
This is how the EU Parliament stands on regulations in video games
A new report on the subject of video games is therefore not met with completely open ears, because over-regulation is feared. And there are also completely negative voices in the plenary hall. Especially from liberal factions, for whom the market remains untouched at best. However, it will probably not remain untouched. Because the majority sees a need above all in the consumer protection mentioned, with a focus on children.
In general, the picture drawn by games and players is much more positive than what one is used to from German politics. Video games are equated with films and music, in times of pandemic and quarantine games become bridging elements that counteract loneliness.
Not only from children, but also from older people. Cases like Roblox are viewed both negatively and positively. Some talk about the exploitation of children’s creativity, others talk about collaborative creativity that promotes innovation and can also have an impact on the later job market.
But across the board, everyone agrees that children need to be protected from mechanics that are addictive and tempt them to spend unnecessarily. The main focus is on so-called dark patterns. This describes tricks that manipulate users into making decisions that they would otherwise not have made.
Dark patterns in video games
Classic dark patterns include already ticked declarations of consent to newsletters or opt-out procedures for subscription models, where you have to choose instead of dialing in. According to the EU Digital Services Act the excessive offering of service lines, for example through pop-up windows, is also part of the dark pattern, as explained to us by Mrs Maldonado López, the rapporteur behind the report on video games that has just been voted on.
Clear presentation of information is important to avoid dark patterns. Something that the current report also calls for in video games, such as identifying real-money prices on microtransactions and accurate metrics on loot boxes, including probabilities of specific content.