The issue that has been the forefront of controversy for many new games, is being discussed in the UK parliament. A committee of UK MPs believes that in-game spending and loot boxes should be regulated by gambling laws. They also state that loot boxes should be banned entirely for children. Jagex admitted players could spend between £1000-£5000 a month in Runescape. And MPs have unsurprisingly found the industry was reluctant to accept responsibility.
Even though children can spend upwards of £1000s, the industry refused to state how much is too much to be spent on in-game purchases. Though, on the other hand, it’s also important to note that these are MPs and have limited to no experience in this area.
MPs said it was difficult to receive clear answers from these representatives. This was particularly true concerning the data that the industry collects.
The MPs also asked for social media to establish better age verification tools. This is also asked in regards to online gaming. Currently, this is based on honesty. This means a twelve-year-old, claiming to be eighteen, could download eighteen rated games. These could have access to gambling, loot boxes, and other age-restricted content, of which MPs are trying to restrict.
The Worlds Perception of Loot Boxes
In a BBC interview, Head of the group of MPs Damian Collins stated:
Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm.
On an international stage, the US is also calling for a ban, whereas Belgium has already taken action ruling them as against gambling laws. This was as a result of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II. And eventually, EA took out the in-app purchase option completely, but only after immense backlash.