The U.K., Gambling Commission has been alerted of the rising risks of loot boxes in many AAA titles, which have made an explosive presence in games this year. Last year Blizzard implemented cosmetic loot boxes in Overwatch, and while gamers weren’t too fond of the microtransactions they felt it was acceptable since they were only cosmetics. But this year titles like Forza Motorsport 7 and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War escalated things with paid loot boxes to increase and improve your profile. Gamers did not take kindly to AAA games having loot boxes because they felt it was a form of gambling.
Gamers didn’t sit around waiting for the devil to notarize fairness, instead they took the issue directly to their local MPs in Britain. This prompted for questions to be posed to Parliament regarding whether or not loot boxes could be considered a form of gambling. This was accompanied by a petition with more than 10,000 signatures to the U.K. , Parliament asking them to respond.
Well, WCCF Tech picked up the response from Tracey Crouch, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, where the statements from the Under-Secretary were posted on the official U.K., Parliament website. Crouch repeated what the U.K., Gambling Commission had originally stated back in March, but then added on to those statements by saying…
“The Gambling Commission have a range of regulatory powers to take action where illegal gambling is taking place. Earlier this year the Gambling Commission successfully prosecuted the operators of a website providing illegal gambling facilities for in-game items which was accessible to children – the first regulator in the world to bring such an action.
“The government recognise the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and computer games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market.”
While that’s not terribly reassuring that the U.K., Parliament will do anything against loot boxes, nor does it inspire confidence that the Gambling Commission will step in, but if they really are monitoring the situation then I’m sure they’ll likely be back in action when Star Wars: Battlefront II launches this November, which takes the loot box mechanic to a whole new level, and the game is aimed at teenagers, which could end up bringing rise to the discussions of loot box gambling once more.
Various gambling commission regulators and regional governments felt that loot box betting and gambling from third-party websites for games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were considered gambling even though it’s an identical process to what we’re seeing in triple-A games (minus the ability to resell the items), but they seem reluctant to classify loot boxes in games sold from major publishers as gambling.
(Thanks for the news tip Migi)