UK To Gaming Companies: Fix The Lootbox Situation Or Face Legislation
While measures are in place, it just isn't enough.
The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, have recently brought up that players who have purchased loot boxes may be more likely to experience “gambing, mental health, financial and problem gaming-related” harms. It is because of this that the UK’s government wants the purchase of loot boxes to be unavailable to children and young people unless they are prior approved by a parent or guardian.
“Games companies and platforms need to do more to ensure that controls and age restrictions are applied so that players are protected from the risk of gambling harms. Children should be free to enjoy gaming safely, whilst giving parents and guardians the peace of mind they need,” said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorris.
Despite her concerns, no formal action has yet to be taken to tighten restrictions for digital purchases. These restrictions would also be difficult to put in place. To start, many companies do have restrictions in place to prevent children from partaking in digital purchases without their parents consent. One way is the use of credit cards. If a credit card is not saved onto a device, it is difficult for a child to go through with a transaction. Also, some companies already have parental controls in place that children have still been able to find their way around.
The CEO of trade body Ukie, Dr Jo Twist OBE said, “As a responsible industry, we have committed to exploring additional ways to support players and parents to build on our existing work developing and raising awareness of parental controls. We look forward to engaging closely with the Government and other organizations in the working group and on the Video Games Research Framework.”
Still, while many players and parents have expressed their concerns, the UK government doesn't plan to legislate on the issue just yet. These issues are sure to continue to happen as long as nothing is done about it. Heck, it was only last month that we wrote about how 18 European Countries considered that video game loot boxes were exploitative in their way of manipulating players into spending money on in-game currencies to then purchase said loot boxes.
At the end of the day, regulations do need to be in place and a bit more empathy should be instilled not just for children, but for adults as well who may suffer from a gambling addiction. This could be as simple as a check box that asks if players would like to limit their spending to a certain amount each month. It still gives players the control, but it also allow a little extra help to those who might need it. Still, as long as companies are profiting, the loot box system will probably not change any time soon.
About the Author
Aspen is an avid gamer currently residing in Japan. She is most attracted to games narrative design and is a huge fan of player choice in games. If Aspen is not playing games, she is most certainly writing about them.
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