The British trade body organization UKIE, also known as the association for U.K., Interactive Entertainment, offered a statement regarding the current loot box controversy taking the industry by storm. Many gamers see it as gambling, and that in Teen-rated games it makes for easy preying on young kids and young adults just under 18.
According to UKIE, the loot box systems in games – sometimes requiring gamers to use real money to purchase a box containing random items that may or may not have what players want – complies with the current U.K., standards for gambling.
Following the ESRB defense of the loot box systems in AAA games, stating that they were not gambling since you get a reward regardless of how much you spend, UKIE offers a more diplomatic response. When reached for comment a representative stated the following…
“Lootboxes and the purchasing of in game virtual items are already covered by and fully compliant with existing relevant UK regulations. The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with UK law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year’s Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming. The games sector also takes its responsibility to players, particularly children, seriously and employs various parental controls across all devices that can prevent unwanted in game purchases.”
UKIE also works alongside the other European industry organization, PEGI, the Pan European Game Information. So there won’t be any amendments to the ratings in Europe regarding loot boxes appearing in retail-rated games.
It’s true some gaming platforms do have it setup where you can choose whether kids are allowed to access online features, or have certain access to digital wallet funds, or set spending limits for certain users.
Australia already began cracking down on aspects of loot boxes and gambling, banning any form of loot box gambling and betting from the e-sports sector.
In fact, Australia was the first and only country to quickly crack down on the practice after the issue gained widespread attention with the CSGO Lotto scandal. The FTC ended up letting off the gambling site owners with a warning, and chided them away from deceptive business practices.
Valve, however, was contacted by the Washington State Gambling Commission and given cease and desist orders regarding providing tools, account information, or software facilitation for third-party loot box betting or gambling.
The issue likely won’t pop up again until parents begin making a stink about the loot boxes in games. So far Forza 7, Shadow of War and the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront II are the three big titles with premium loot boxes contained therein, so we’ll see if the outrage persists up until the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II this November.