US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Loot boxes & child gambling

US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Loot boxes & child gambling

Senior officials at the Federal Trade Commission, America's top consumer watchdog, said Tuesday, Nov. 27, that they will look more closely at loot boxes - the bundles of digital goods offered to players, often for a fee, that contain random assortments of in-game clothing, abilities or other rewards. In a recent Congressional oversight committee hearing, Hassan once again brought up the topic of loot boxes. Hassan's campaign was a success - ESRB rated games now add warning labels to games that feature loot boxes as a mechanic.

Hassan urged the commission that it was time to properly investigate loot boxes to make sure kids are protected and that parents are informed of any potential dangers. It's still early days.

Even loot boxes that don't require an exchange of real-world money may still "meet the five established psychological criteria for gambling" and thus pose a risk to certain players. Now we may get some resolution to the question of "Are loot boxes a gateway to gambling?" here in the States.

The Entertainment Software Association, for example, sent this position statement on loot boxes to Polygon following that Senate hearing.

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This hasn't satiated Hassan's concerns over the effects loot boxes have on children, classing the monetisation as an "endemic in the video game industry" across a multitude of platforms.

Why parents would sign off on these loot box purchases wasn't made clear. Which game do you buy loot boxes in?

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. One problem with her assertions: the UK Commission report she cited actually doesn't draw a connection between loot boxes and the rise of youthful gambling. As Kotaku noted today, Star Wars: Battlefront II also completely overhauled its system after getting fan feedback and moved away from "pay to win" loot boxes. "That's why I'm confident that the ESRB will take this issue seriously", she said, indicating that involvement from the Trade Commission would only be necessary if the ratings board fails to adequately address the issue. "They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not".

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