Loot Box Ban News:
Loot boxes are a hot topic right now, mostly thanks to the heat emanating from the hellfires of Diablo Immortal. Which is why governments are starting to address the issue in earnest, with one in particular deciding that loot boxes are actually totally fine and problem free. Cue ‘Rule Brittania’.
Following a lengthy enquiry, the UK government has resolved to let the games industry self-regulate loot boxes until further notice. To cut a long story short, there will be no UK loot box ban until more evidence of their negative effects emerges over the coming years. Though they are still poised to legislate if children are found to be being exploited.
The official findings included the following resolution: “As the evidence base on loot boxes is still emerging, and direct government intervention may risk unintended consequences, our view is that it would be premature to take legislative action without first pursuing enhanced industry-led measures to deliver protections for children and young people and all players. As a result, the government does not intend to make changes to the Gambling Act or to other statutory consumer protections with regards to loot boxes at this time.”
Most of the controversies surrounding loot boxes stem from the inherent gamble. The UK government’s focus on protecting children from these gambling mechanics is a sentiment that has been mirrored by US senators, with Republican Senator Josh Hawley even spearheading a bill named “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act” in 2019. The bill ultimately expired.
As a result, the US sits alongside the UK in putting the loot box issue on the backburner. Other countries, however, aren’t so laissez-faire.
Belgium and the Netherlands are the foremost examples of countries that have put their foot down with regard to loot boxes, resulting in triple-A titles such as Mario Kart Tour and Diablo Immortal being effectively banned in their countries.
Meanwhile, a Norwegian Consumer Council-led investigation backed by 18 other European countries resolved that loot boxes are both manipulative and exploitative. However, it remains to be seen what effect this will have, if any, on legislation across Europe.
But even with the US and UK loot box policy remaining as it is, a Europe-wide loot box ban will carve out a vast swathe of the market that might just make loot boxes a financially unviable F2P model and, ultimately, a thing of the past.
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