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In the 80s and 90s, gaming was mostly seen as a nerd thing; however, in the 21st century, it has broken deeply into the mainstream, and now everyone plays games. Massive gaming tournaments have incredible prize pools; people donate to their favorite gaming streamers and content creators, and some even bet on online video games.
Then, there’s the issue of mobile gaming, monetization, loot boxes, and iGaming, each of which falls under the broad umbrella of “the gaming world.”
So, how is all of this regulated? What regulations will apply in the gaming world in 2024, and what changes can we see in the future? Let’s find out!
Verifying the age of users
First of all, there are so many games with sensitive content out there, which means that verifying your players’ age is the highest priority. This, however, already creates a sort of a problem. You see, while you need to verify a player’s age, you can’t gather too much data, meaning these principles must be privacy-preserving and accurate at age verifications.
The biggest problem with this is that, with modern AI generator tools, verifying accurately may be more difficult than ever. This is why the process needs to have multiple layers. On-device age verification is just one of these steps.
Another problem with these games is that different rules apply in different regions. A business that launches a game in a specific region must acknowledge local jurisdiction, which can be difficult.
Abiding by these rules is not only required but also moral and ethical. This is the only known way to make sure that every player/user is of legal age to access this content, which should. This must always be a priority.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the iGaming regulations. Depending on the region, you may have to honor the GDPR or CCPA. Numerous anti-money laundering acts are especially applicable to this particular industry. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how this field could be abused in this manner.
Just remember that regional regulations are constantly evolving. The fact that grey areas exist in some regions is mostly due to the fact that this is “still” unregulated, not because it never will be.
In areas like the US, you may even look at regulations like the UIGEA of 2006 or the Federal Wire Act. The latter started to prevent sports betting across state lines via telephone; however, it was also extended to cover internet betting.
Keep in mind that you have more than just laws to deal with. There are a lot of platforms and initiatives, like GamStop, aimed at preventing online betting. While not laws or regulations, one set up these can be quite difficult to navigate around. Still, there are a lot of casinos not on GamStop listed on techopedia.com to choose from.
Regardless of the fact that they’re often described as “surprise mechanics” by the PR teams of game publishers, loot boxes are much more than that.
The main reason why they were so problematic and banned in countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, and Slovakia is because there’s a reasonable ground for believing that these may be a gateway to gambling.
You see, the difference between loot boxes and aesthetic in-game purchases is the fact that you don’t really know what you’ll get until you open it. You’re paying for an in-game reward that you have no idea if it has any worth at all. The anxiety while you wait for the box to open and the serotonin release of opening the box is tied more to the anticipation than to the actual content of the box. This sensation is often compared to what gamblers feel while waiting for the ball to stop spinning during roulette or waiting for the next card.
There are two types of mobile games out there – free and premium. The latter are simple, you just buy the game and you play, like with games on any other console. However, “free” games are far more common, and they are the ones that face future heavy regulation.
First of all, we used the word free under the quotation marks for a reason. The majority of these seemingly free games are what a regular gamer would label as pay-to-win. This means that while you can play for free, there are certain features that you can’t access without in-game purchases. Therefore, in order to get an edge or even play the game to its fullest potential, you have to pay.
Randomized rewards (similar to loot boxes) are also likely to be heavily regulated, which may seriously hurt the revenue of developers across the globe. The only developers who will be allowed to stay in the game are those who practice the utmost level of transparency and find other ways to monetize.
Data and privacy regulations
Video games and gaming platforms have more personal data on their players than you think. Even if we completely disregard the fact that these games are profiling their users, gathering sensitive personality traits of their users as they go, there are more pressing matters to address.
First of all, online game stores have your personal information, like your credit or debit card information. This alone is a reason for concern since, to buy a game (on Steam, for instance), you’re also giving away your private address and phone number when filling in your credit card holder info.
Online games contain private chats between players, some of which are as sensitive as any social media correspondence or dating app chats.
As the gaming industry grows, it will inevitably attract more legislation and regulation
While the gaming industry was still young, only had a few players, and didn’t see astronomical transaction figures, it could still fly under the radar of the government. Now, this is no longer the case. We’re talking about one of the biggest, most valuable, and fastest-growing entertainment mediums. If anything, the regulation speed is just picking up its pace.