Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Tech | By Constance Martin

USA and Australian Governments Will Be Investigating Loot Boxes

USA and Australian Governments Will Be Investigating Loot Boxes

Democratic senator Maggie Hassan issued an official request for the investigation during a U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing on November 27.

An Australian Parliamentary committee has issued a report calling on the government to undertake "a comprehensive review of loot boxes in videogames". Along with his declaration, Senator Maggie Hassan said that loot boxes are now "endemic" to the video game industry and that children may be "particularly susceptible" to such business practices.

Still, whatever these companies have done to ease the negative reaction to loot boxes doesn't appear to be enough.

Simons' proposed investigation will tackle loot boxes at a federal level.

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"It's time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected", she said. She cites another report from the UK Gambling Commission "finding that 30% of children have used loot boxes in video games".

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. This follows regulation of loot boxes in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Japan, as well as troubling reports on the dangers of loot boxes from gambling commissions around the world.

Senator Hassan has attempted to tackle loot boxes prior to this incident; she sent a letter straight to the ESRB to request a further pry into loot boxes and how they should be rated.

Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. Hassan, as well as Hawaii Representative Chris Lee and Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker, called for action in this arena earlier this year, and Hassan in particular wrote to the ESRB regarding the matter. As they did this week, they also said yes back then, without any indication in the news since then that they'd actually done so. As Kotaku noted today, Star Wars: Battlefront II also completely overhauled its system after getting fan feedback and moved away from "pay to win" loot boxes.

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