FTC to Hold Public Loot Box Workshop in August 2019

The Federal Trade Commission will hold a workshop on the issues surrounding loot boxes on August 7, 2019.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold a public workshop on August 7, 2019, to discuss the many consumer protection issues surrounding loot boxes. We knew this was coming after FTC chairman Joseph Simmons said as much last fall; however, seeing it actually move forward is encouraging.

The workshop, titled “Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes”, is bringing together a group to discuss concerns regarding loot boxes, particularly how they are marketed to minors. The group will include “industry representatives, consumer advocates, trade associations, academics, and government officials.”

The FTC group will also talk about consumer awareness and education about digital transactions. Presumably, this means they will be looking into the potential for loot boxes to be seen as addictive or to be viewed as a form of gambling.

The issues surrounding loot boxes have continued to grow over the last year. As the potentially predatory practice continues to grow in popularity, the pushback has only increased. Last April, the Belgian Gaming Commission concluded that paid loot boxes were considering gambling under local law. And the negative player response to the Star Wars Battlefront II use of the practice was staggering.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this workshop. For their part, the FTC is seeking public input before the workshop. The public can submit suggestions through June 7, 2019, via e-mail. You can also submit public comments through October 11, 2019.

The workshop is free and open to the public. It will take place on August 7, 2019, in Washington, D.C., and will be webcast on the FTC’s website.

Ricky Frech

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