The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today pledged to look into Loot Boxes in videogames.
The FTC intends to step into the Loot Box arena a year after Star Wars Battlefront II kicked off a worldwide discussion about the practices. Joseph Simons, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission confirmed his agency’s plans to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). In a speech, she called Loot Boxes endemic to the games industry and infect all types of games. She also highlighted a UK report where 30% of children have used Loot Boxes, which could lead to gambling problems later in life.
This marks the largest step the United States government has made towards regulating Loot Boxes. While a handful of countries around the world have outlawed them, many others have not and are still studying the possible effects they have on players. The big question is if Loot Boxes are gambling or not. The games industry says they aren’t, but top health officials, including the World Health Organization, believe they do constitute gambling. ‘Gaming disorder’ found itself placed right alongside ‘gambling disorder’ under mental illnesses.
The fight over Loot Boxes is far from over, and likely won’t be resolved for some time. As a precaution, many game publishers have moved away from the system in favor of more traditional microtransactions that don’t featuring gambling elements. Still, there are those who continue to use them. EA, who kicked off this mess, continues to implement them in games like FIFA and Madden NFL. They have refused to remove them from their games in countries where Loot Boxes are illegal and could face criminal prosecution.
We’ll continue to update you on this evolving story.
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