Earlier today, a bill was proposed by U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) concerning the future practices of loot boxes. The bill specifically hones in on games that use pay-to-win microtransactions to lure in minors.
With multiple countries and states getting behind this trend, it’s no surprise this bill was created. Many people on the outside looking into the gaming world see loot boxes as a form of gambling. This, of course, would be fine if only those appropriately aged were participating.
However, as we all know, people of all ages throw their money into different titles’ microtransactions. While not a new problem, the rise of gaming over the past years has brought this issue into the limelight.
So let’s take a look at what this bill entails and what it could mean for the future of video games.
Although the title of the bill is a bit far-fetched, the content appears reasonable. Overall, the bill argues that minors should not be faced with loot boxes and microtransactions in games that are meant for adults. Of course, there are different ESRB ratings, but a lot of “Teen” and “Everyone” rated games contain loot boxes.
Titles like Overwatch, although not violent, give every player the same options in terms of microtransactions. This bill argues that those underaged players should not have the opportunity to buy any form of in-game currency and use it on a loot box.
“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction,” Hawley said. “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.”
In essence, this proposed bill is stating everything that the gaming community has been saying for years. While there are some outliers, most fans believe that the current model of microtransactions is a form of gambling. Not only that, but there are many cases of players getting too addicted to buying loot boxes and going deeply in debt.
As several countries and some U.S. states have already banned online gambling, this bill has a chance to pass. It makes a solid case for in-game loot boxes being aimed at the younger player base, which is a terrible business practice.
However, this particular bill doesn’t want to do away with loot boxes entirely. It outlines that simply making minors immune to the microtransactions is its end goal. Although, if this does indeed pass, many companies might get rid of loot boxes entirely.
Of course, as with all controversial things, there is opposition to this bill. The CEO of the ESA, Stanley Pierre-Louis, argues that multiple countries found that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. It will be interesting to see how this plays out between the government and publishers.
“Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.”
While this bill still has a long way to go, it stands a solid chance. The one major concern from the gaming community is that the government doesn’t interfere too much with video games. Getting rid of loot boxes is a great thing in the long run, but there is potential for this to cause more problems than it solves.
What do you think of the newly proposed bill? Is this a good or bad idea? Let us know in the comments below. Keep up with Daily Esports for all gaming news and updates.
Joey Carr is a University of North Georgia Journalism graduate. He has 4+ years experience covering Esports and traditional sporting events, including Dreamhack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.