It was only a matter of time before lawmakers in the United States took a look at loot boxes. Thanks to Electronic Arts, that time is finally here.
Representative Chris Lee of Hawaii is taking a stand against what he perceives as “predatory practices in online gaming.” His focus is due in large part to the Star Wars Battlefront II situation, but if any laws are passed, whether on the federal or state levels — Lee says “we have also been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue” — they’ll have a wide-ranging effect on both pay-to-play and free-to-play games.
That longer quote comes from Lee’s explaining his stance on Reddit. He goes with the “for the children” route, which I and others said would probably be the way that such legislation achieved a foothold in the U.S.:
These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all.
To be honest, even with last week’s talk about loot box regulation in Belgium — and today’s update about the Belgian Gaming Commission not actually calling it gambling but still looking into it — I didn’t think U.S. legislators would get the ball rolling so quickly. It looks like all those “speed up progress” buffs games sell in their cash shops have finally paid off!