US FTC commits to investigating loot boxes in video games

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The Federal Trade Commission has pledged an investigation into loot boxes that are found within video games.

As reported by Broadcasting Cable, Senator Hassan said that loot boxes are "endemic" to the industry, and noted their increased availability in games regardless of platform or budget.

"Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling", reiterated the ESA. US Senator Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, encouraged FTC Chairman Joe Simons to investigate loot boxes during a Congressional oversight committee meeting this week.

"Loot boxes represent the evolution of revenue streams in the gaming industry".

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

"It's time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected, and to educate parents about potential addiction and other negative impacts of these games", said Hassan, who also pointed out that there is similar legislation in place Japan and the Netherlands.

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After last year's debacle with Battlefront II and loot boxes, multiple governments from different countries have taken to investigating whether or not microtransactions constitute gambling in games.

Even loot boxes that don't require an exchange of real-world money may still "meet the five established psychological criteria for gambling" and thus pose a risk to certain players.

Video game makers have defended loot boxes as a way to provide additional, optional content to players after a game has been published. Critics of loot boxes fear that it's a predatory practice that essentially exposes children to the idea of gambling. Hassan raising all the points that have been raised before about loot boxes during the hearing with the FTC. 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.

An Australian Parliamentary committee has issued a report calling on the government to undertake "a comprehensive review of loot boxes in videogames". Whatever you think about them personally, they have clearly been abused in current years, and publishers may be seeing true repercussions for them.

Up to now, loot boxes were a reliable, if not a little shady, form of income for game developers.

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