The British aren’t standing by idly when it comes to the issue of loot boxes popping up in games like Forza 7, Shadow of War and the upcoming Battlefront II. We’ve seen how those kind of monetary practices can be highly disruptive in the mobile space, but now they’ve made their way into triple-A $60 games, and some consumers want to see this issue addressed by their state government.
According to WCCF Tech, Daniel Zeichner from the Labour Parliamentarian for the constituency of Cambridge, posed two questions to British parliament, with the first question asking…
“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man’s enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK.”
And the question themed more along the lines of if loot boxing can be considered as gambling, what sort of steps can be made to protect vulnerable individuals, both kids and adults, from these kind of preying practices…
“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.”
The questions were posted on October 6th, and they have yet to be addressed by Parliament… yet.
However, to help speed along that process there is currently a petition over on the Parliament U.K., website, which works similar to the White House website petition, where after a certain number of signatures the government will respond.
At 10,000 signatures the Parliament will respond to the petition in some way, but at 100,000 signatures the issue will actually be up for debate by MPs.
At the moment they’ve managed more than 10,000 signatures, meaning Parliament must respond.
The petition will be active for the next six months up until April, 2018.
The petition points out that loot boxes operate very similar to gambling with a slot machine, and that it preys on the addictive impulse to keep rolling for better and higher quality items. According to the petition maker, Connor Rhys Deeley, he writes…
“Many video game companies in recent years have introduced mechanics which are essentially gambling of which are targeted at children and vulnerable adults. While not currently considers gambling by law they do copy many traits to make them as addictive and can lead to real money being lost/earned.
“Gambling in video games mostly involves ‘loot boxes’ where players use virtual currency (often bought with real money) to earn in game items often worth less than what they paid (sometimes more) hence its gambling.
“Currently only china has introduced new laws to force companies to display the odds of winning which had been standard in the uk gambling industry for years.”
China’s law forces developers to disclose what the odds/percentages are of rolling for an item in a loot box, so people can actually see what the risk/reward is for attempting to roll for the item they want.
Publishers were apparently incensed at China’s law, and refused to comment about it when PCGamesN asked if they would be adopting the practice of displaying roll percentages outside the region of China.
Some people have defended loot boxes by saying they’re fine so long as people don’t buy them, and others have claimed that it’s not gambling so people should stop complaining. Gamers feel as if the loot boxes are used as a way to increase the artificial grind of the game to tempt players who are short on time to invest in the loot box in order to progress quicker, and that using them in games like Star Wars: Battlefront II to make your characters stronger will have detrimental effects on the playerbase and pay-to-win factors.
So far publishers have not been deterred from using loot boxes, and most of the ratings boards have defended the publishers by saying that loot boxes aren’t gambling.