Wednesday, 10 June 2020

UK Government Launches Investigation Into Video Game Loot Boxes

Video Games

The UK government is reportedly launching an investigation into video game loot boxes.

A new report from this week has revealed that the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is launching an investigation into video game loot boxes following the publication of a new report into “addictive and immersive technologies” of which loot boxes were a part of.

Loot boxes are collections of items that can be bought by players with real money within video games but the rewards are unknown until they are bought. This had led many campaigners to claim that the mechanic is a form of gambling and has been encouraging children to gamble. The upcoming investigation could lead the government to reclassify the loot boxes as gambling products.

Under current legislation, loot boxes are not considered gambling as the products awarded do not possess monetary value. The DCMS has since stated that the gaming sector is a key part of the UK’s creative industry but more research is required to ensure that gamers are product, hence the launch of an investigation into loot box mechanics.

According to FocusGN, the investigation will include workshops with academics as well as industry players. The DCMS will also hold a roundtable meeting on the future of eSports and its connections to sports betting within the United Kingdom.

What They Say

Caroline Dinenage, the Minister for Digital and Culture, said in a statement: “The government has committed to tackling issues around loot boxes in response to serious concerns about this model for in-game purchasing.

“A call for evidence on loot boxes will examine links to gambling-like behaviour and excessive spending in games. The findings will provide a solid foundation for future steps and will be considered alongside a review of the Gambling Act.”

She continued: “The increased time at home in recent weeks has highlighted the increasing popularity of eSports in the UK through events linking gaming to traditional sports like the Formula One virtual Grand Prix series and the ePremier League Invitational.

“Today’s response also includes plans to develop on the potential of this burgeoning industry whilst ensuring the safety of competitors and audiences is paramount. DCMS will host a ministerial roundtable with a wide range of stakeholders to explore the future of eSports in Britain.”

Campaigners have long called for the ban of loot boxes in video games and if they are reclassified as a gambling product, video game developers will be required to remove them from all video games or prevent them from being sold to players under the age of 18.