Star Wars Battlefront 2 French Senator Writes Letter To Gambling Authority.
A French Senator has penned a letter to the online gambling authority in France regarding his thoughts on loot boxes and microtransactions in the wake of the controversy surrounding Star Wars: Battlefront II. Jerome Durain‘s letter to the independent agency, ARJEL, opens by praising video games and esports in particular for helping contribute to the cultural and economic growth of entertainment in France.
Despite all of the positives, Durain pointed out in his letter posted on Twitter that the video game world is constantly evolving, with one potential area of concern being the growing trend of loot boxes and microtransactions, as most recently brought to the forefront by Star Wars: Battlefront II. He mentioned that there is some amount of worry among the gaming crowd that microtransactions could have a “deleterious” effect on the industry.
— Jérôme Durain (@Jeromedurain) November 16, 2017
Durain went on to say that he is not recommending any specific legislation regarding microtransactions and loot boxes, adding that when loot boxes contain cosmetic items only (as they do in Overwatch), these are generally well-accepted. But Durain took issue with games that can offer loot boxes as part of a “pay-to-win” scheme, mentioning Star Wars: Battlefront II by name in making his point.
He said Battlefront II’s loot boxes could be seen as a form of gambling, with the suggestion being that if they are, some amount of consumer protection may be advisable. Durain pointed out that China has already taken steps in this area, as the country mandates that developers disclose loot box odds for some games, including Overwatch, while Belgium & Dutch has launched its own investigation as well. Durain is now wondering if ARJEL has the capacity to take on such an initiative, which is why he wrote the letter.
Finally, Durain said he also spoke with other key parties in France about this, including the country’s Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, video game consumer and developer bodies, and ESports organizations. With all of their input considered, Durain said he’s confident France can make progress towards action.
Notably, Durain’s message to ARJEL is dated November 16. That’s the same day that EA removed microtransactions from Battlefront II. That announcement was made late in the day on November 16, so it seems likely, given that France is nine hours ahead of California time, that Durain’s letter went out before the news broke.
Battlefront II is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Much of the news cycle around the game has been focused on its microtransaction system, which, though removed for now, is coming back at a later date. Management at Disney was reportedly unpleased with the negative response around the game, which comes just a few weeks before the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.