Loot boxes may soon be classified as products that teach children aspects of gambling, according to The Guardian.

What’s the news:

  • According to The Guardian, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the United Kingdom will launch a new investigation into the common feature of loot boxes — a virtual item that can be redeemed for virtual items, often at the cost of the gamer’s real life money.
  • Loot boxes are commonly found in games like “FIFA” and NBA 2K20, where gamers pay money for coins that they spend on packs or cards. “Star Wars: Battlefront II” had a similar feature that sparked controversy as well.
  • Loot boxes are reportedly valued at $29 billion per year, according to The Guardian.
  • The ministers will examine whether loot boxes are a form of gambling, and whether they teacher children how to gamble.
  • Per The Guardian: “If ministers opt to reclassify loot boxes, the decision would have a significant impact on game developers, who could be forced to withdraw some titles or redesign them so that they can be sold to people under 18.”

What about the United States?

  • In May 2019, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, introduced legislation that sought to ban video game purchases like loot boxes, as the Deseret News reported.
  • Hawley said the Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act could help prevent children from understanding gambling.
  • “When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions,” he said.
  • Entertainment Software Rating Board announced in April it would add a rating for loot boxes to games, too, as I wrote for the Deseret News.