United States and Australian Governments Will Be Investigating Loot Boxes

Loot boxes are under investigation in America. Credit EA

Loot boxes are under investigation in America. Credit EA

Federal Trade Commission vowed to investigate loot boxes, a new report has called on the Government of Australia to conduct a "comprehensive review of loot boxes in video games". She also stated that loot boxes are on track to generate $50 billion by the year 2020 and cited a report from the United Kingdom that stated 30% of children have utilized loot boxes before, which could later lead to gambling issues. The new project will "investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected and to educate parents about potential addiction or other negative impacts of these games", keeping the committee informed along when new developments come to light.

Over the previous year, the rising controversy around loot boxes has turned the heads of more and more government officials from all over the world.

Maggie Hassan grilled commissioners from the Federal Trade Commission about video game loot boxes - about how prevalent they are as well as the fact that stricter oversight of them might be needed. While the Aussie report acknowledges, and even sympathizes with, the economic realities of the video game industry, it ultimately found loot boxes to be a legitimate risk. But will they find enough to ban loot boxes?

Issues around loot boxes certainly tend to flare up in periodic bursts and then kick off possible interest from government officials, without too much aggressive follow-up action (at least in public).

While that report did note that 31% of teenagers had opened loot boxes - and the link between loot boxes and child gambling remains a point of worldwide concern - the UK Gambling Commission was quick to clarify last week that it had not investigated any link between loot boxes and problem gambling among children.

If the Senator's concerns are for children playing the game, then a more risky part of it might be that, since children paying for loot boxes generally have access to a form of money, they're more vulnerable to scam sites and credit card thieves. Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, and other countries have all moved to regulate the use of loot boxes in video games given this close link to gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling...

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