Unlike a lot of politicians, Representative Chris Lee of Hawaii isn’t just all talk. He’s following up his pointed speech against loot boxes in video games with some actual legislative work, and yesterday he posted a video on YouTube detailing his efforts.
He calls it “Time To Step Up” and the video shows the representative — who admits he’s not a lawyer — working with some legal-minded staff members to draft legislation. One of those staffers puts into words the focus of the bill:
“We’d like to prohibit the sale of video games that have gambling mechanisms in them to minors — anyone under the age of 21.”
As I’ve said before, however, game companies will exploit any and every loophole possible to keep their loot box income intact. Obviously, the quote above doesn’t represent final wording of any potential law, but how does language like “prohibit the sale of video games” apply to free-to-play games? It would affect Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch, for sure, but what about Hearthstone or Guild Wars 2.
Rep. Lee also brings up the theory that there might be an algorithm in some games that makes it so that, if it determines you’re likely to make purchases, it reduces the odds of you getting good loot in loot boxes, knowing that you’ll buy more anyway. He admits that it’s third-hand information that he needs to verify, but he could be referring to the Activision patent that was in the news recently that the developer swears isn’t present in any of its games.
In any case, this is all still in the formative stages. It will be a good long while before any legislation is actually enacted, so there’s still a chance that companies will see what they’re doing is leading them off a cliff, with government regulation lurking at the bottom, and they’ll change their ways. Then again, maybe they won’t.