US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Loot boxes & child gambling

Yolanda Curtis
November 30, 2018

Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Joseph Simons, proclaimed to Congress today that the FTC would be taking a closer look at loot boxes in video games.

In a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) discussed the issue of loot boxes with FTC commissioners. It makes sense-the only difference between loot boxes and typical gambling is that the former's prizes are in-game items rather than real money.

Over the past year, the rising controversy around loot boxes has turned the heads of more and more government officials from all over the world.

Hassan's $50 billion quote is from a 2018 study from United Kingdom -based research agency Juniper Report.

"So given the seriousness of this issue, I think it is in fact time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected and to educate parents about potential addiction or other negative impacts of these games".

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". Critics of loot boxes fear that it's a predatory practice that essentially exposes children to the idea of gambling.

There's no telling how long it will take the FTC to investigate loot boxes or, if it agrees that they need to be regulated, how it will do so.

Now, they're after loot boxes. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase.

Even though they aren't quite as notorious as they were a while back with games like Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and Star Wars: Battlefront II, loot boxes are still of great concern to many players, particularly in sports games like National Basketball Association 2K19.

Slowly but surely, governments are beginning to pay attention to the controversy loot boxes have been causing throughout the past year. Loot boxes have become a favorite post-launch monetization method for many publishers out there, and a number games - from high-budget, AAA titles to smartphone games - use them in some form. While the Aussie report acknowledges, and even sympathizes with, the economic realities of the video game industry, it ultimately found loot boxes to be a legitimate risk.

That's part of the reason why loot boxes are so effective.

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