US Federal Trade Commission Investigating Video Game Loot Boxes
Just last week we reported on a study conducted by the Gambling Commission, which highlighted a clear link between child gambling and video game loot boxes.
In said linked report, we also touched on rulings made by the Belgium government - it's completely banned loot boxes within the country - and that other countries could soon follow suit.
Now, it seems as if that prediction is one step closer in becoming true, as the US Federal Trade Commission has announced it's looking into video game loot box usage within America.
As Polygon reports, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons affirmed an official request made by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), which asked the agency to investigate video game loot boxes.
"Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smart phone games to the newest, high budget releases," Hassan said. They could "represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022".
She also reinforced the Gambling Commission's previously mentioned study, through warning how children are most susceptible to loot boxes, a feature she claimed as a "close link" to gambling.
"It's time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected," Hassan continued. "And to educate parents about potential addiction and other negative impacts of these games."
In response to the her request, asking for a further investigation and the FTC to "report back", Simons said "yes". Straight to the point. But will they find enough to ban loot boxes? PEGI and the ESRB have already added "in-game purchase" labels to any title offering the service, in an attempt to warn parents who aren't aware that such things exist - until they have a massive credit card bill, that is.
To be honest, this new investigation could end up being a big game of cat and mouse, as the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the government-level interests of games publishers, told Polygon that loot boxes "enhance the experience that video games offer" and "are not gambling". I've got the feeling that whatever happens, it won't be over quickly.
What do you think about this news? Should loot boxes be banned? What do you think the FTC will find? Which game do you buy loot boxes in? Make sure you let us know.
Featured Image Credit: EA