Australia has joined the party as the latest nation that’s embarked on the road to regulating loot boxes in video games. The “Protecting the age of innocence” report has an exceedingly banal title but recommends that the country lay out “options for restricting access to loot boxes in video games, including though the use of age verification.”
The report comes from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs and clocks in at 113 pages, most of which have to do with children’s exposure to pornography and gambling on the internet (including this laughable “discovery”). The committee recommends that a “relevant government department report to the Australian Government on options for restricting access to loot boxes and other simulated gambling elements in computer and video games to adults aged 18 years or over.”
While the report acknowledges that loot boxes are not legally defined as gambling under the country’s Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, loot boxes can still “act as a gateway to problem gambling and associated harms later in life” is still mentioned as a “concern in the community.”
It also recommends that there be “tighter restrictions and warnings on video games that include micro-transactions (such as ‘loot boxes’ and ‘skins’)” — thus bringing up the notion of age-related restrictions even for non-random loot.
As has been the case countless times in the UK and elsewhere, this report is merely a set of recommendations that its authors likely hope will lead to eventual governmental action. In the case of Australia, which has been notoriously restrictive in its handling of mature video games, I’d say that they’ve got a better-than-average chance of completing that goal.