American Federal Trade Commission agrees to investigate loot boxes
This is just the beginning.
Many months ago, EA sparked a worldwide crackdown on microtransactions, in particular loot boxes. Countries like Belgium classified the pay-to-win mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront II as gambling and banned them. Loot boxes can be found in numerous titles and usually cost real currency. They include randomized items so players have to keep on buying them to unlock the items they want.
According to a report by Polygon, the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has agreed to investigate loot boxes, following an official request by Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Hassan said, "Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smartphone games to the newest, high-budget releases." While the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) claims that they don't harm anyone, children are more susceptible to getting addicted due to their slots-like nature.
Polygon reached out to the ESA and the organization said, "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... but have no impact on those who do not."
However, just because loot boxes have no "real-world value," it doesn't mean that they don't cost "real-world" currency. It'll be interesting to see how the FTC rules because we've come across many children who have become addicted to buying them, and have even spent thousands of dollars as a result.
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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.
Loot boxes wouldn't "harm anyone" if they could only be bought by in game currency and there was zero mechanisms of using real world currency.
As long there are mechanisms to use real world currency it is still gambling, as the only difference between loot boxes and buying the items out right from a store is the randomised element.