Europe’s Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) board sure is mad with Activision Blizzard and Plaion. The game rating board—whose abbreviation you’ll recognise from a million game trailers where a disembodied voice says “PEGI 16” or something like it—has fined the two companies for failing to disclose the presence of loot boxes in their games when submitting them for rating. The amount? An eye-watering, garment-rending, world-historic, uh, €5,000.
No, I haven’t missed three zeroes. For failing to tell PEGI about the loot boxes in Diablo Immortal (Activision Blizzard, naturally) and Hunt: Showdown’s limited Bounty Hunter edition (Plaion), each company was fined an amount that translates to around £4.3K/$5.3K.
“Both games were published in 2022 and although they contain paid random items (like loot boxes or card packs), this was not disclosed to PEGI when the games were submitted for a rating license,” said PEGI on its website. “Since this amounts to a violation of the rules described in the PEGI Code of Conduct, the PEGI Enforcement Committee sanctioned both companies with a fine of 5,000€”.
The companies were also compelled to take “immediate action to update relevant store listings and marketing materials” to reflect the presence of paid random gear in their games.
For the record, Activision Blizzard recorded net revenues of $7.53 billion at the end of 2022, so the PEGI fine equals around 0.00007% of its revenue for last year. The cherry on the cake? No doubt a huge chunk of that came from microtransactions like loot boxes (in 2021, over half the company’s revenues came from microtransactions).
Equivalent numbers for Plaion are harder to source, but its parent company—Embracer Group—reported net sales revenue of $1.12 billion in a single quarter last February, so I imagine Plaion is likewise not especially put out by the €5K demanded by PEGI.
It is, of course, rather strange to hand down 4-figure fines to companies with market caps in the billions. I’ve reached out to PEGI to ask about its reasoning for the fines, and I’ll update this piece if I hear back.