European Parliament Calls for Greater Protection of Video Game Players
European Parliament mandates regulations to better protect consumers in the video game sector
On January 18, 2023, the European Parliament approved a legislative proposal asking for better protection measures for consumers in the EU video game sector. The text, that passed with 577 votes in favor, 56 against and 15 abstentions, calls for clearer information, control amongst parents what their children are playing and how much time and money is being spent.
Adriana Maldonado, a MEP from the socialist group and rapporteur, pointed to the EFE that the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly contributed to this rise in video games in Europe, with more Europeans spending longer hours playing games online. As such, Maldonado noted that developing European legislation to protect users was vital, thus demanding that information be “clear, transparent and accessible” by consumers before they begin playing.
MEPs requested that the Pan-European Gambling Information (PEGI) system, currently used in 38 countries, be used to categorize the content of the games according to age and to raise awareness amongst parents about their child’s gaming habits. Additionally, it was called to place greater regulation on loot boxes, which are systems similar to bets that can be purchased with digital currencies earned in a game or purchased with real money.
The Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders, acknowledged the concern of protecting minors, citing an 80% increase in cases of online bullying and contact for sexual harassment between minors. While many companies have begun to take steps to protect minors, Reynders regarded that it was not enough, and thus welcomed the text for calling for more responsibility in this sector.
In addition to regulatory measures, MEPs also proposed the creation of an annual European online video game award, further affirming the video game industry’s role in boosting digital transformation. Through this, MEPs also aimed to address the gender imbalance in the industry, as 92% of jobs are held by males, with Maldonado urging the Commission to take action if necessary.
In conclusion, the approved report poses new measures to better protect EU consumers in the video game industry, as well as children, adults, and other vulnerable sectors.