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Breaking Ban: Assessing the effectiveness of Belgium’s gambling law regulation of video game loot boxes
Has the “ban” of loot boxes eliminated them from Belgian mobile games?Recommended by Veli-Matti Karhulahti based on reviews by Andrew Moshirnia, Joseph Macey and Jason Chin
In this Stage 1 Registered Report, Xiao (2022) has constructed a careful plan for testing whether the “ban” in Belgium has made the local mobile game market distinct in terms of paid loot boxes. The work builds on a rapidly accumulating literature and evolving methods (e.g., Xiao et al., 2021). The author will carry out a systematic qualitative investigation of the country’s top 100 (iPhone) mobile games to investigate whether paid loot box design components have indeed been removed from the products -- and if not, whether related game companies operate with a required gambling license. Additionally, Xiao (2022) will assess Belgium’s overall paid loot box prevalence in comparison to other countries and carry out a field experiment to test whether players can easily circumvent the local regulation by transporting or downloading different versions of software.
The study will produce valuable evidence regarding the effectiveness of loot box regulation in general, and more specifically, the results should be of utmost interest to Belgian legal authorities. To ensure the transparency and validity of the chosen methods as well as upcoming interpretations, the registered report format allowed the research design to be reviewed in three rounds before data collection. Three experts, representing the fields of law and gaming, reviewed the Stage 1 manuscript twice and agreed upon the acceptance of all details. Finally, the recommender carried out a third iteration with further requested revisions, which was followed by in-principle acceptance.
URL to the preregistered Stage 1 protocol: https://osf.io/5mxp6
Level of bias control achieved: Level 6. No part of the data or evidence that will be used to answer the research question yet exists and no part will be generated until after IPA.
List of eligible PCI RR-friendly journals:
- Addiction Research & Theory
- Peer Community Journal
- Royal Society Open Science
- Swiss Psychology Open
Drummond, A., Sauer, J. D., Hall, L. C., Zendle, D., & Loudon, M. R. (2020). Why loot boxes could be regulated as gambling. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(10), 986-988.
Macey, J., & Bujić, M. (2022). "The Talk of the Town: Community Perspectiveson Loot Boxes." In Ruotsalainen et al. (eds), Modes of Esports Engagement in Overwatch (pp. 199-223). Palgrave Macmillan.
Xiao, L. (2022) “Breaking Ban: Assessing the effectiveness of Belgium’s gambling law regulation of loot boxes.” Stage 1 Registered Report, in principle acceptance of Version 5 by Peer Community in Registered Reports.
Xiao, L. Y., Henderson, L. L., Yang, Y., & Newall, P. W. (2021). Gaming the system: suboptimal compliance with loot box probability disclosure regulations in China. Behavioural Public Policy, 1-27.