A recent court ruling in Austria could affect the future of loot boxes in video games.
A court in Carinthia has now ruled in the first instance for plaintiffs who sued Sony Interactive Entertainment in this regard.
What are the consequences of the verdict?
How games economy reported, the Hermagor District Court ordered Sony Interactive Entertainment to refund payments for loot boxes in the amount of 338.26 euros.
The money spent on FIFA packs was classified as “gambling that requires a license”.
The verdict is not yet final, so Sony can still appeal. Which will probably happen.
The court sees the randomly acquired content from the FIFA packs as a “financial benefit within the meaning of the Austrian Gaming Act”, since the cards are also traded on a secondary market and it is possible to make a profit. The contracts concluded between Sony and the plaintiffs are therefore void, since Sony does not have a gaming license.
“The verdict is a bang for the entire video game industry,” commented Richard Eibl, managing director of litigation financier Padronus, on the first decision. “Neither in Austria nor in Germany has there been any case law on the question of the legality of loot boxes and the reclaimability of payments made. The final result of course remains to be seen, since the procedure will probably go up the courts, but Sony and several other gaming groups should get off dress warmly immediately.”
“The court agreed with us and explained plausibly why this is the case with FIFA packs. Sony is also strongly oriented towards conventional games of chance when it comes to the staging of the loot box purchase process. Audiovisual lure elements such as fireworks effects are used as an accompaniment to trigger dopamine release in predominantly male adolescents. It was only through talking to our customers that we realized how enormously addictive the FIFA packs are and how pathological the purchasing behavior of some of the players is.”
According to Padronus, a four-digit number of FIFA users have contacted the company. This involves sums averaging around 800 euros, in extreme cases even 85,000 euros.