In several countries, the move to ban loot boxes from games altogether is gaining steam. Several countries including Germany and Belgium have already begun to see them as a predatory practice as well as a form of gambling, which very well means that they could be getting regulations put against them in those countries before much longer.
In the United States, the same has already begun to happen as the state of Hawaii has already proposed a legislation that would liken loot boxes within video games to that of gambling due to the level of “psychological, addictive, and financial” risks that they come packaged with.
Led by Hawaiian representative Chris Lee who has already begun to investigate whether or not EA’s use of loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II was of predatory in practice or not, has already stated that he aims to pass a bill against loot boxes altogether. The first pair of bills headed by him aims to prevent the sale of games that contain randomized digital rewards to consumers under the age of 21, while the second pair of bills currently being worked on would require publishers to disclose the probability rates of obtaining the randomly generated loot.
As the legislation is already in the works, these bills could have a profound impact on the gaming industry as a whole. This legislation would greatly impact free-to-play titles such as League of Legends, Smite, Hearthstone, Gwent, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and Quake Champions (currently in paid early access and is set to go free-to-play in the future) the most. Full retail titles such as Overwatch, Call of Duty: WWII, Destiny 2, Killing Floor 2, and Star Wars: Battlefront II would also be heavily affected by the proposed legislation.
However, as a turn of events, the ESA provided GameIndustry.biz with a response to Chris Lee’s proposed legislations. In the response, the ESA spokesperson affirmed its commitment to industry self-regulation. While this could bode well for the gaming industry in the short term, if the proper actions are taken, we could see a change of laws, but the ESA does want to stay committed to a self-regulated gaming industry.
“As an industry, we take our responsibility to consumers very seriously and continually work to create greater awareness and transparency about the wide range of in-game experiences,” the spokesperson told GameIndustry.biz. “We strongly believe that the industry’s robust, self-regulatory efforts remain the most effective way to address these important issues, and that system has a proven and long record of doing so. Some consumers and parents may have questions about how loot boxes work, and ESA has demonstrated a commitment to providing information to guide consumers, especially parents, in their purchase decisions.”
Aside from the response, another Hawaii state representative by the name of Sean Quinlan has stepped out in support of Lee’s proposed bills, stating that the new legislation differs from past attempts to regulate violence in video games and would not affect the content gamers receive. Instead, these proposed bills would only affect a single mechanic with the games, ones he believes that even “mature and intelligent adults are falling victim to these mechanisms, how are kids expected to respond?” Quinlan told GameIndustry.biz.
The news comes shortly after New Hampshire senator Maggie Hassan sent an open letter to the ESRB asking them to pay more attention and keep an eye on the current trend of microtransactions and loot boxes in games. At this time, it does seem that loot boxes are facing heavy criticism from politicians around the world, which doesn’t bode well for the gaming industry as a whole.
While many will agree that loot boxes are problematic, many would quite possibly also agree they don’t want any more government regulation than they already have on the products they purchase.
Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.