The FTC will investigate video game loot boxes

Love them or hate them, loot boxes are in hot water. As reported by Polygon, the Federal Trade Commission has agreed to an investigation at the request of Senator Maggie Hassan. The concern is mainly that video game loot boxes are deemed similar to gambling and that younger players are especially vulnerable.

Background

This issue was brought up during a Senate Commerce hearing on data privacy issues. As you can see from the video below, the meeting delved into other issues as well.

Loot boxes have been widely debated in other countries around the world on whether or not they should be looked into by governments. Here in the United States, it seems the FTC is finally taking action. What comes out of this remains to be seen. The Entertainment Software Association made the following statement to Polygon on the issue:

Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.

Earlier this year, Senator Hassan asked the ESRB how it would rate games that employ loot boxes. The organization has since started using the “in-game purchases” label when applicable.

The hearing

“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,” said Hassan.

Loot boxes offer power-ups, cosmetics, and even in-game currency that add to the gameplay experience. Yes, they can become an addiction, but with proper budgeting and keeping an eye on your spending and your kids, it’s unlikely to get out of hand. Unfortunately, we’ve seen reports too often of kids actually stealing their parents’ credit cards to purchase loot boxes and virtual currency like V-Bucks in Fortnite.

Do you think loot boxes are a bad thing? Does the FTC need to start regulating them? Are they like gambling? Chime in with your thoughts on the issue below.

Tarah Bleier is a freelance writer, editor and content creator from Toronto. She currently actively writes for, Daily Esports, Nintendo Enthusiast, PC Invasion, Flixist and Outright Geekery. As a graduate from Centennial College’s Journalism program, she has also written for Tribute.ca, Factinate.com and recently for Geek Enthusiast Magazine. In her free time, she loves gaming, cosplaying, prop making and attending as many conventions and geeky events as she can.