Loot Box "Comprehensive Review" Called For by Damning Australian Government Report

Isaac Cain
November 30, 2018

The UK Gambling Commission has previously said that loot boxes 'blur the lines" between video games and gambling and pledged, along with 13 other European commissions and the Washington State Gambling Commission to "thoroughly analyse' how loot boxes are created to ensure they comply with gambling laws. FTC commissioners responded affirmatively when asked if they would commit to undertaking the project and keeping the congressional committee informed of developments. This follows regulation of loot boxes in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Japan, as well as troubling reports on the dangers of loot boxes from gambling commissions around the world.

"It's time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected", said Hassan, "And to educate parents about potential addiction and other negative impacts of these games".

The investigation is a response to Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who called attention to loot boxes at the height of worldwide inquiries surrounding the monetisation earlier this year. It's still early days.

Loot boxes have never really sat well with the wider gaming public, but over the past year, push back against them seems to have come to a head.

Senator Hassan has been spearheading an effort to regulate loot boxes in the US. These are distinct from other in-game purchases because the items in each box are random.

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Video game makers have defended loot boxes as a way to provide additional, optional content to players after a game has been published.

"Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smartphone games to the newest, high-budget video game releases", Senator Hassan said.

Why parents would sign off on these loot box purchases wasn't made clear. Belgium has been the most heavy-handed, forcing some publishers to remove loot box mechanics.

Now, they're after loot boxes. Critics of loot boxes fear that it's a predatory practice that essentially exposes children to the idea of gambling. Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association contends that loot boxes are not gambling because they "have no real-world value".

Loot boxes form an integral piece of the progression mechanics in many of today's most popular games including Overwatch and Federation Internationale de Football Association.

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