In the wake of the Star Wars Battlefront II microtransaction fiasco, a state representative for Hawaii is laying out plans to tackle loot boxes in video games.
Hawaii Rep. Chris Lee is on the warpath against predatory microtransactions in video games. A video of him went viral after he called out Star Wars Battlefront I for being a ‘Star Wars-themed online casino.’ Warning parents the game is a trap, Lee promised to fight video game publishers practices, and he’s following through.
Lee has posted a new video on YouTube detailing his plan to limit the predatory practices publishers currently employ. One such way is by prohibiting any game with ‘gambling mechanisms’ to anyone under the age of 21. The law would not only apply to retail games, but also those sold via digital distribution. This by itself could have a huge impact if properly enforced. Numerous popular games, including Star Wars Battlefront II, Destiny 2, and Overwatch utilize a ‘T’ rating in order to appeal to a wider audience. Forcing the age gate up to 21 could signicantly impact the sales of these types of games should they keep their microtransaction models.
Lee is also looking into implementing a system similar to what China adopted last year. To keep publishers from potentially manipulating the drop-rate, the law would force publishers to reveal the actual drop-rates for all items.
To accomplish this in Hawaii, and, perhaps, nationwide, Lee is urging viewers to contact their elected officials. Lee’s efforts have a long way to as he still needs to write the bill, both the state Senate and House have to approve, and the governor has to sign it into law. After that it may have to survive potential legal challenges from the industry.
This whole issue really blew up with the release of Star Wars Battlefront II, which stripped out the game’s entire progression system and hid it behind microtransactions. Backlash grew quickly with players denouncing the game as pay-to-win and predatory. The news eventually reached the mainstream media, which caught Disney’s attention. Though EA has temporarily removed microtransactions from the game, it has done little to calm investors. EA has since lost over $3 billion in stock value, analysts have noted that the game’s sales have been lackluster, and various countries are investigating the Loot Box issue. Meanwhile, a collection of passionate fans are attempting to convince Disney and Lucasfilm to pull it’s exclusivity contract with EA. With the current move by Hawaii, it’s clear this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.