- Video game players need to be better protected from manipulative practices and addiction
- Children’s games must take into account the age, rights and vulnerabilities of minors
- Video game sector has enormous growth and innovation potential, but it needs support
MEPs want harmonised rules to protect video game players while contributing to the development of an innovative video game sector.
On Monday, Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee approved a draft report on consumer protection in online video games. The text emphasises the value and importance of video games sector but calls for more measures to protect players.
Better protection of minors
MEPs want to make clearer information available on the content, in-game purchase policies and target age group of games along the lines of Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system already used in 38 countries. They also want to ensure that parents have good control over how much time and money their children spend playing.
To make sure that in-game purchase systems and targeted advertising do not harm players, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee asks for a European approach on so-called “loot boxes” - the in-game paraphernalia bought for real money to advance in the game. MEPs also want to make sure game developers avoid addiction-feeding design and take into account the age, rights and vulnerabilities of children. A child impact assessment could be required to ensure this in the future.
The draft report asks the Commission to look into selling items obtained in a game for real money (so-called „gold farming“) as this practice can be linked to financial crime and human rights abuses.
Ensuring data protection and protection of vulnerable groups
MEPs also emphasise the importance of ensuring data protection, gender balance, safety of users and non-discrimination of people with disabilities. They stress that 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.
Supporting the video game sector
In support of this important sector, however, the Internal Market Committee proposes to instate an annual European online video game award. It also asks the Commission to put forward a European Video Game Strategy to unlock the economic, social, educational, cultural and innovative potential of this fast growing cultural and creative sector that is responsible for more than 90 000 direct jobs in Europe.
The draft report was adopted with 35 votes for, 0 votes against and 3 abstentions. Plenary vote of the draft report is expected to take place during the January session next year.
Half of all Europeans between 6 and 64 play video games. They enable interaction between players and provide entertainment as well as mental stimulation. Yet, it can also be dangerous. Video games can be addictive, gather players’ data and use ads or manipulative designs to make players spend money to advance in the game.
Member states have so far regulated online video game sector on their own but Parliament’s Internal Market Committee is now calling for harmonised EU rules.
Maris KURMEPress Officer