Video game boxes face new control from United States officials as the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to launch an investigation into an increasingly popular business model at the request of Senator Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire.
Loot boxes are virtual packages containing digital elements for use in a particular video game; most games sell real money bonuses through micro-transactions, but some allow players to earn them by playing too. The elements inside each virtual window are randomized, with the possibility of a collision with each element predetermined by the developer. Especially rare items often have very high chances. In some cases, items inside the loot box can improve the gameplay of the player, creating an additional incentive to spend real money on acquiring a digital item faster.
Critics of the business box model with lubom compare the practice with gambling, because the chances of getting certain items are often unknown to the buyer, and the desire to find the rarest items may lead some players to continue to spend money on the game with little return on investment. As more video games take on boosters and micro transactions as a standard, lawmakers around the world are concerned that children are being formally gambled.
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During a follow-up hearing for the Federal Trade Commission, Senator Hassan asked commissioners to investigate mass production practices in order to protect children from addictive or accustomed business models and inform parents of other potential negatives. Senator Hassan wrote an open letter earlier this year to the Entertainment Software Ratings editorial board, in which he advises the council to collect data on the use and income of micro transactions in video games.
“Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smartphone games to the latest high-end video games,” said Senator Hassan during the hearing. “Loot boxes are a $ 50 billion industry by 2022, according to recent research estimates.”
FTC Chairman Joseph Simons agreed to investigate the loot box model and publish the report.
Senator Hassan’s comments refer to the April 2018 report, published in the UK, at Juniper Research, which predicts that mining revenue will increase from $ 30 billion this year to $ 50 billion in 2022. Juniper recommended that regulators intervene to stop teenage players from selling items scored in handing out boxes or using them to play. Hassan also referred to a survey of 2865 11–16-year-olds from the UK Gambling Commission, in which 31% of participants paid for cheap boxing or used a game in the game to open a box of loot.
However, in a statement released by GamesIndustry.biz prior to the hearing on Monday, the UK Gambling Commission clarified that although 31% of adolescents surveyed used boxes of bast, there was no direct connection to gambling.
The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the political interests of American video game companies, issued the following statement in response to Senator Hassan’s comments:
“Loot boxes are one of the ways players can improve the experience that video games offer. Contrary to claims, boxes of bast do not gamble. They have no real value, players always get something that improves their experience, and they are completely unnecessary for them to improve the experience for those who decide to use them, but do not affect those who do not. ”
The ESA also reported that the ESRB is already documenting the availability of extraction boxes and other interactive elements in video games. As of February 2018, games rated by the ESRB now have “inside the game” labels when micro transactions are present. Tools for parents to keep track of the contents of their children's games can be found at parentaltools.org.
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In September, the European Gambling Regulatory Forum issued a joint statement signed by officials from 15 European countries and the Washington State Gambling Commission, which expressed concerns about a possible connection between the boxes of production and gambling.
Some European countries have already introduced micro-transaction provisions that force developers to disclose the chances of winning every product included in the production boxes or completely stop selling. The Belgian investigation of popular games such as Overwatch, FIFA 19, BattleUnkown PlayerUnkown and NBA 2K19 for their weapon bots eventually triggered a reform earlier this year.
Despite the warnings of politicians and the wave of indignation of consumers, gaming companies annually receive a larger percentage of their income from micro-transactions. While some argue that buying additional blocks of loot is ultimately a problem of a player’s choice, critics worry that, like in gambling, the problem is not knowing when to stop.