Loot Boxes to Be Investigated by the FTC


Now the cause is being taken up by the FTC, at the request of New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan. She then asked commissioners if they would be willing to look more closely at their usage in video games, and the commissioners said they would.

While that report did note that 31% of teenagers had opened loot boxes - and the link between loot boxes and child gambling remains a point of global concern - the UK Gambling Commission was quick to clarify last week that it had not investigated any link between loot boxes and problem gambling among children. Simmons said that he and the FTC were concerned about this potentially manipulative practices and that they would be "undertaking this project and keeping the committee informed about it".

It's not just the United States that has revealed it'll be investigating loot boxes as the Federal Government in Australia has also revealed that it will be moving forward with its Senate inquiry into the matter too. It's still early days. In April, Belgian gambling officials said publishers must remove loot boxes from their games or risk facing criminal penalties, such as fines of more than $900,000 and possible prison time.

She also reinforced the Gambling Commission's previously mentioned study, through warning how children are most susceptible to loot boxes, a feature she claimed as a "close link" to gambling. "At minimum, the rating system should denote when loot boxes are utilized in physical copies of electronic games".

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Hassan describes loot boxes as "endemic" to the videogame industry, citing unspecified research estimates in saying that they'll be bringing in $50 billion by 2022.

Why parents would sign off on these loot box purchases wasn't made clear. They work like this: You fork over cash to buy a mystery box, which may contain a valuable in-game item-but only if you're lucky.

ESA responded to Polygon: "Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer". Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association contends that loot boxes are not gambling because they "have no real-world value". Are loot boxes a danger when it comes to gambling, or simply part of the experience? "They can enhance the experience. but have no impact on those who do not".