Bill Banning Loot Boxes and Microtransactions Introduced by Missouri Senator
After gamers were essentially threatened with legalization by a Hawaii Senator two years ago, one Missouri Senator is trying to get loot boxes banned.
No matter your opinions on the subject, there’s no escaping this fact: loot boxes, and by extension microtransactions in general, are a hot topic in the games industry right now. While the threat of U.S. legislation has been hovering over the heads of gamers for a few years now, I never thought it would actually happen. Now it seems like it’s a reality, as U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has introduced “The Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act,” which aims to ban loot boxes and microtransactions in games played by minors.
This new bill would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and if it becomes a law, would prohibit games “targeted at children under 18” and “games with wider audiences” from including any form of loot boxes or pay-to-win microtransactions. While tons of games implement these features (Call of Duty and Overwatch come to mind) Senator Hawley specifically calls out Candy Crush for its use of microtransactions in his press release.
While loot boxes and microtransactions deserve to be talked about and discussed, the government 100% shouldn’t step into the games industry. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have been around for 24 and have appropriately self-regulated the game’s industry for that entire time. If they can handle hot topics like video game violence, then surely we don’t need any government interference.
Speaking of the ESA, Kotaku was able to get a statement from them about the new legislation, which you can read below:
“Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.”
Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the matter, it’ll certainly be interesting to see what comes out of this. If it does become law (and it’s important to stress that it is not yet) then this could completely change the video game industry forever.