Loot boxes to be investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission • Eurogamer.net


It has been just over a year since the furore over Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been started, and in that time, gambling regulators have paid more attention to the controversial microtransactions. The latest government to get involved is a big'un, as the United States Federal Trade Commission has indicated it will investigate loot boxes and how they impact children. Oh – and the Australian Senate has something to say on the topic too.

FTC Chairman Joseph Simons yesterday affirmed a request by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) on the agency's investigation of loot boxes in video games (via Polygon). During the hearing, Hassan pointed out that "loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smart phone games to the newest, high budget releases, and will likely represent a $ 50 billion industry by the year 2022 ".

Although Washington State is one of the signatories to the international declaration of risks, the posed by loot boxes (along with 15 European state regulators), this will be the first time they will be investigated at a federal level in the US. As an independent agency of the US government, the FTC is responsible for consumer protection, and both enforces and promotes awareness of business regulation statutes. Judging by Hassan's remarks, it sounds like "educat"[ing] "the FTC will report its findings back to Congress, and we will probably have to wait for a little while before we hear back.

Earlier this year, Hassan also sent a letter to the ESRB (the body responsible for rating games in America) requesting the organization review its ratings process for loot boxes. Hassan was also successful on this front, as the ESRB contains the Loot Boxes. The lady sure knows how to get things done.

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<figcaption>Where the war on loot boxes is really star-ted.</figcaption></figure>
<p>On the other side of the world, the Australian Senate has been investigated into loot boxes, and recommended – well, further research. Its report states that it is still too early to propose specific regulations, but it is argued that greater clarification is needed from Australian government regulators to cover legal loopholes. Specifically, this should come in the form of a review by the Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts in conjunction with a number of regulatory bodies. </p>
<p>Although there is no solid yet from the US and Australia, the loot boxes are totally illegal (like Belgium and the Netherlands), the announcements do increase government-level interest in regulating loot boxes. With so many regulatory bodies now interested, we're likely to hear further developments in the months to come. </p>
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