Loot boxes are hitting the headlines once again as the US considers a bill to ban them for underage gamers.
Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley has confirmed the introduction of a bill which would ban the “manipulative” design feature in video games. The bill would affect underage players and would include the sale of loot boxes.
If the bill gets approved, the sale of loot boxes in games targeted at children under the age of 18 would be banned. The Federal Trade Commission could also penalise companies that would allow minors to purchase loot boxes.
Senator Hawley said: “Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits,
“No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices.”
He went on to add: “When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction and when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”
Naturally the bill’s reveal has caused something of a ruckus in the gaming community, as it could redefine the publisher and consumer relationship.
Some countries, including Belgium, have already banned loot boxes in their games and consider them to be a form of unregulated gambling.
Loot boxes can be purchased in a huge number of games, and offer mystery in-game items in exchange for real life money. Sometimes these items can be cosmetic, but sometimes they offer unique abilities and power-ups that can significantly help a player in the field. These pay-to-win loot boxes are, of course, a huge sore spot for the gaming community.
Senator Hawley’s proposed legislation wouldn’t just see a ban on loot boxes, but also on microtransactions as well as pay-to-win features.
What do you think about the bill?
Featured Image Credit: Epic Games