Tuesday 23 May 2023

Activision Blizzard Slapped with €5000 Fine over Loot Boxes in Diablo Immortal


In a recent incident, PEGI's Enforcement Committee has imposed a fine of €5000 on gaming giant Activision Blizzard for failing to disclose the presence of loot boxes in its popular game, Diablo Immortal. Along with Activision Blizzard, Plaion, another gaming company, has also been penalized the same amount for not informing the ratings board about the inclusion of paid random items in its Limited Bounty Hunter Edition of Hunt: Showdown​.

This enforcement action comes as a part of PEGI's mandate to uphold its Code of Conduct, which was clearly violated by the failure of both companies to disclose the inclusion of loot boxes and other paid random items in their games. In response to the fine, both Activision Blizzard and Plaion have been directed to immediately update their store listings and marketing materials to accurately reflect the presence of such items in their games​​.

While a €5000 fine might seem trivial for corporations of this size, the action signifies a broader issue within the gaming industry. These companies are not the only ones to face repercussions over the controversial practice of incorporating loot boxes in their games. Earlier this month, Sony found itself in a similar predicament when it was ordered to refund a number of Austrian FIFA players. The verdict came after a court ruled that FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) packs were a form of gambling, highlighting the increasing scrutiny of loot box mechanics in video games​.

The ongoing controversy surrounding loot boxes has also stirred up concerns about the consistency and reliability of warnings for games featuring such mechanics. A study conducted by Leon Y Xiao, in partnership with universities in Denmark, London, and the US, pointed out inconsistencies in loot box presence warnings across PEGI and the ERSB, as well as varying age ratings on the Google Play Store as overseen by the IARC. The study investigated a selection of smartphone games available on the Google Play Store that include loot boxes​​.

As regulatory bodies and courts continue to scrutinize and take action against loot box practices, gaming companies are being called to offer greater transparency to their players. The minimal €5000 fines imposed on Activision Blizzard and Plaion may not serve as a significant deterrent, but they do underscore the growing international concern over the practice of loot boxes in video games. The industry as a whole needs to address these issues promptly and decisively to ensure fair play and the well-being of their players.