Jungfrau Zeitung – Sports competitions are not just slot machines

Gaming | 7. June 2021

Due to the decision of the Federal Council, gaming and eSports bars have also been open again since the weekend. The Association of the Swiss Video Game Industry (Swiss Interactive Entertainment Association, SIEA) criticizes the classification of eSports activities as games of skill in the sense of money gaming law.

Two boys playing at the international gaming show in Basel.Photo: Keystone, Adrien Perritaz

SIEA and the Swiss eSports Association SESF clearly reject the classification of any eSports activities as games of skill in the sense of money gaming law. The software-based competition, carried out in tournaments, cups, individual events or even league structures, is to be viewed in its nature as a sport competitive activity. The previous non-recognition of eSports as a classic sport by the Federal Office for Sport (Baspo), based on aspects of sports funding law such as the promotion of physical activity, does not, conversely, justify a classification as a game of skill in the sense of money gaming law. According to the announcement, regulation, or a requirement for authorization or licensing of eSport events by authorities such as the intercantonal gaming supervisory authority (Gespa) is neither expedient from the point of view of the association, nor does it do justice to the core of Swiss eSports. Of course, this does not apply to downstream activities such as betting on the outcome of eSports competitions.

Skin Gambling

Finally, the SIEA and its members speak out resolutely against “skin gambling” practices, which consist in reselling content obtained in video games via unregulated third-party platforms.

Microtransactions

These are a standard process in today’s digital world. It is a payment method for small amounts of money that is used primarily when buying “paid content”, i.e. digital goods such as music, films and newspaper articles. These microtransactions in video games have been around for over a decade. They can range from season subscriptions to new characters, outfits, in-game currency, extra lives, boosts for new levels and loot boxes. Simply put, players get access to a shop, within the app or game, where they can buy virtual goods or currencies with their credit card. The video game industry is committed to being transparent to consumers. Games that contain microtransactions are clearly identified as such by the PEGI standard. The parental control features can be used to limit gaming expenses. These tools are easy to use and easy to set up. Parental controls are available for Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and Google Play (Android) consoles.

Loot boxes

In April 2020, PEGI introduced a special declaration to inform about the presence of paid random content (also known as loot boxes) in a video game. In addition to the in-game purchase descriptor, this informs the consumer before the purchase that the video game in question offers the possibility of purchasing random content that is subject to a charge. To further support transparency when an in-game purchase includes paid random content, publishers and platforms industry-wide committed in August 2019 to publicize the likelihood of receiving paid random content from a loot box. Loot boxes are optional purchases in video games. Players acquire them for their own pleasure. There is no money to be made with the purchase of loot boxes. They are therefore not games of chance and money. In addition, as with trading cards (Panini, Magic, Pokemon and so on), with every purchase the player receives an item that improves their gaming experience.

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