Loot Boxes Under Fire

Loot boxes continue to attract negative attention and there are a few new stories reflecting the pushback game companies are getting on what many consider gambling and/or predatory sales practices. Following news last week that Belgium was investigating loot boxes, PC Gamer helps translate a report that the country has decided selling in-game loot boxes does constitute gambling, and is looking to get the practice banned in Europe (thanks Grumpy Sod, ASLayerAODsk, and Quboid). Meanwhile, back in the states, reddit notes a new video from Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee on the topic that calls out Electronic Arts specifically for "predatory behavior" for the loot box system in Star Wars Battlefront II, the game that helped bring such concerns to the forefront. Finally GameWatcher notes a more grassroots effort is underway to protest microtransactions in FIFA 18, as this reddit thread discusses a boycott of the game centered on the ability to pay to avoid an onerous grind to qualify for the game's Weekend League. Back to the video from Chris Lee, the state rep added his own comment to the reddit thread:
Chris Lee here - I'm the one in the suit. My staff just told me someone apparently found this youtube upload before we had a chance to finish putting it together, but I thought I'd leave it up and just post here to explain that this fight can be won if people step up. This fight is about protecting kids, protecting families, freedom from exploitation, and the future of entertainment in this country.

People are more powerful than they think. While we are stepping up to act in Hawaii, we have also been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue. Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.

Even so, elected officials can't do it alone. They need your support and you can compel action wherever you live by calling and emailing your own state legislators and asking them to act. But don't stop there. Call your allies. Call your pastors and teachers and community leaders. Ask them to call your state legislators as well. Their voices are politically powerful.

I believe this fight can be won because all the key bases of political support across the country are on the same side. The religious community, the medical community, the education community, consumer advocates, parents, even many business leaders and local chambers of commerce. This is a fight that unites everyone, even the most polarized conservatives and progressives. Doing something is a political win for Democrats and Republicans alike. And frankly, we don't need to change the laws in every state - we just need to change a few and it will be enough to draw the line and compel change.

These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all.

Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one. You have the power to get involved and decide this and the choice is clear: stand up now, or let this be the new normal from this point forward.