Loot boxes should be banned, says U.S. senator

US Senator to introduce bill to ban loot boxes and pay to win microtransaction

If this law were to pass, then games aimed at children would be outright prohibited from letting kids buy loot boxes, microtransaction currency and more, and additional restrictions would wall them off from younger buyers in other games.

The Entertainment Software Association has issued a response in light of today's proposed bill, claiming that "numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling", and that the organization will "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". It would affect games that target minors under 18, or ones with a wide audience that children also play, such as Fortnite. Well, very few (if any) first-party Switch titles feature loot-boxes or gacha systems (the closest is Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which doesn't allow you to actually pay money for in-game items).

Hawley's Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act takes aim at a growing industry revenue stream that analysts say could be worth more than $50 billion - but one that increasingly has triggered worldwide scrutiny out of fear it fosters addictive behaviors and entices kids to gamble. Like slot machines, loot boxes offer visual stimulation - often through an explosion of colors and other animated action - along with what psychologists call "variable rewards", meaning outcomes that are better or worse depending on seemingly random factors.

The FTC would be in charge of decided whether microtransactions and loot boxes are "unfair trade practice", and states would be able to sue publishers if found in violation of rules set forth.

The initiative patterns itself on regulations passed in other countries including Belgium, Ireland and Germany as well as that passed in USA states including California and Washington.

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Nearly 90% said that they had opened a loot box in a video game, with more than half spending money on them and about a third reporting to have sold a loot box item.

State attorneys general would also be empowered to file suit to defend the residents of their states.

In other areas of the government, the Federal Trade Commission is going to be holding a public workshop on the topic of loot boxes this August. The proposal gained early support Wednesday from groups that advocate on behalf of parents.

Many games have player-versus-player battles.

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