After a 22-month consultation regarding the association between loot boxes in video games and gambling, the UK Government has decided not to ban the popular feature.
Loot Boxes have been quite a controversial topic in the gaming community as they are seen by many as the feature that encourages development of gambling habits in underage players. Available in highly popular video games such as Call of Duty and FIFA Football Series, loot boxes require that players make a purchase in order to reveal in-game rewards such as weapons or outfits. However, players don’t know what they are getting until they open the box which is why the link between this feature and gambling has been drawn so often.
The UK Government has come with a conclusion that even though there is “a stable and consistent” association between loot boxes and problem gambling (as identified in 15 peer reviewed studies), there is no definite evidence that there was a causative link between them.
“Our view is that it would be premature to take legislative action without first pursuing enhanced industry-led measures to deliver protections for children and young people and all players.”
Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, said that prohibiting loot boxes might actually have “unintended consequences”.
“For example, legislation to introduce an outright ban on children purchasing loot boxes could have the unintended effect of more children using adult accounts, and thus having more limited parental oversight of their play and spending.”
Another important fact that influences the UK Government’s decision is that loot boxes cannot be exchanged for real money so the players can’t technically make any type of withdrawal. However, the UK Gambling Commission has already come out with the fact that some third-party websites are allowing people to exchange rewards for real money.
Dorries also said:
“Children and young people should not be able to purchase loot boxes without parental approval. In addition, all players should have access to spending controls and transparent information to support their gaming.”
The talk between ministers and the gaming industry in the UK should start soon enough and the public should expect the first information regarding tougher curbs in the first 3 months of 2023.