Loot boxes have plagued the video game industry ever since someone determined you could make a game free only to stuff it with so many microtransactions that it easily exceeds the typical $60 price tag for most games. Gamers have long complained about loot boxes being added into games, but it seems the U.S government has taken notice, too.
For anyone unfamiliar with the video game industry, loot boxes are essentially slot machines that allow gamers to obtain rare in-game items or items that make the game easier, which is commonly referred to as “pay-to-win.”
The reason the government has taken an interest in loot boxes is because children playing these games and being enticed to pay money for loot boxes could easily be considered gambling. Since most states require someone to be over the age of 21 to gamble, it would make sense this issue would come across a politician’s desk.
According to Kotaku, Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri introduced a bill that would focus on removing “pay-to-win microtransactions and sales of loot boxes in minor-oriented games.”
The proposed legislation argues that even if game developers and publishers are supposedly targeting an adult audience, a child would be intrigued by any game they are not allowed to play anyway.
In turn, Hawley has turned his focus on the game publishers who have “constructive knowledge that any users are under 18.” The issue with this is that most games are primed towards adult audiences as they have the most funds to spend.
There are games that are created for the sole purpose of keeping children busy. Games like “Fortnite” and other battle royale games fit in that mold nicely, but, for the most part, most developers create adult experiences games.
The ESRB rates games on what is appropriate for certain age groups. Throughout the years, most of the top must-play games were rated “M for Mature.”
Loot boxes can cost consumers an arm and a leg, and if these consumers are particularly susceptible, such as children, it might not hurt to have some regulations protecting them.