Hawaii state representative Chris Lee is still going at it. “It,” in this case, refers to the regulation of loot boxes, and he’s introduced four bills that — if passed into law — will greatly change how games with loot boxes do business in the state.
“The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the sale of video games that contain a system of further purchasing a randomized reward or a virtual item that can be redeemed to directly or indirectly receive a randomized reward to consumers under twenty-one years of age.”
Now, how will this apply to free-to-play games, which aren’t “sold,” exactly? Good question, and one that I hope Representative Lee takes into account.
The other two bills, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would require that video game manufacturers to disclose that their game contains loot boxes, similar to how cigarette packages must include a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General:
“The purpose of this Act is to establish certain disclosure requirements for publishers of video games that contain a system to purchase a randomized reward or virtual item that can be redeemed and directly or indirectly converted to a randomized reward.”
These bills ask for a “bright red label” on physical packaging or prominently displayed upon download of a digital game that indicate that loot boxes are present that reads: “Warning: contains in-game purchases and gambling-like mechanisms which may be harmful or addictive.”
If you’re under 21 and living in Hawaii, your first thought might be, “Stupid government, going to make it so I can’t play my favorite games!” I think the purpose of these bills — the first especially — is not to reduce sales or customers for loot box-offering games, but to coerce developers to remove loot boxes or possibly greatly change how they are implemented. Game companies don’t want to lose all their customers under the age of 21; they’re more likely to adapt and keep their games legal for everyone to enjoy.