If you thought the loot box controversy was all over, you would be wrong. Now that loot boxes have been deemed a contravention of gambling laws in Belgium and Netherlands, it seems like the United States is about to take action too. According to gamesindustry.biz, US Senator Josh Hawley wants to introduce the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act to ban loot boxes and other "exploitive game mechanics" in children's games, as well as preventing children from accessing these items in games aimed at an older audience.
Hawley wants to ban loot boxes and randomised rewards available through microtransactions, especially those that are pay-to-win by giving players a progression or competitive advantage over those players who choose not to pay the extra money. One of the games he specifically mentioned was Candy Crush and its US$150 "Luscious Bundle" that includes virtual currency, consumables, and unlimited lives for a 24 hour period. The game was labelled as a "notorious" example because the bundle is advertised as "Best Value". He added:
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. 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.The Senator wishes the Federal Trade Commission to enforce his new rules as he sees them as an unfair trade practice. The legislation would also give individual states the ability to sue companies that violate the rules. Whether the legislation will actually be implemented remains to be seen, but with complaints about the loot box practice coming from politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties, there's unlikely to be a lot of opposition.