China outlines new rules banning log in rewards, loot boxes and other in-game spending

Loot Boxes
(Image credit: Blizzard)

New rules have been laid out by regulators in China that aim to reduce the amount of money gamers spend within video games. 

As reported by Reuters, the rules were announced today (December 22), and will make changes to how games can reward their players for logging in and making purchases, on top of limiting how much players are able to top up their digital wallets. 

For example, online games will be banned from giving players daily log-in rewards. They will also be prohibited from providing rewards for consecutive spends, or first-time spends. In addition, games will be stopped from luck-based draw mechanics (like loot boxes) to minors, who will also be unable to participate in auctions of virtual items. 

In case you were unfamiliar with the term, loot boxes in games essentially offer gamers random, in-game items (often cosmetics, like skins or emotes). For example, loot box mechanics have been prevalent in the FIFA (now EA Sports FC) games, and the first Overwatch game before the free-to-play sequel was released. Although they can often be earned for free through regular play, loot boxes are usually also available to be purchased with real money. 

As such, loot boxes continue to be a source of controversy within the games industry. Earlier this year in the United Kingdom, games industry trade association UKIE put forward 11 recommendations aiming to restrict them. While not legally binding, they call for "increasing player protections and transparency,” with recommendations such as giving players “clear probability disclosures" so that they know what odds they’re facing when purchasing a loot box.

Looking for some games to play over the holiday season? Be sure to check out our picks for the best PC games, as well as the best PS5 games, best Xbox Series X games and best Nintendo Switch games for some excellent recommendations.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer, TechRadar Gaming

Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.