The Australian Federal Government have announced this week that they’ll be pushing to “apply an R18+ rating to all video games that contain simulated gambling”, a move that appears to be the strictest of its type.
While Belgium’s infamous Loot Box laws have made headlines repeatedly after passing a few years ago, this new Australian proposal takes a slightly different approach, and will tackle all forms of gambling in video games, not just “surprise mechanics”.
As the ABC report highlights, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is asking the country’s states and territories to sign off on the plan, which would see any game with “simulated gambling” hit with an adults-only rating. That means anything with simulated actual gambling, so stuff like digital slot machines.
While that would affect some mainstream titles, the wider impact would be felt by any game still using loot boxes, since the proposed laws “also seek to change classification rules to require all games with paid loot boxes — where players can purchase a box with a randomised in-game item inside — to carry at least a ‘mature’ M-rating.”
“There is growing community concern around the harms of simulated gambling,” Rowland says. “A parent, for example, would expect that if their children had purchased and was playing a game, and that game contained some simulated gambling, that they have a right to know about that.”