Hawaii Democratic representative, Chris Lee, issued press statements recently alongside other concerned parents, gamers and residents over the rising prominence of premium loot boxes in mainstream games like Star Wars: Battlefront II. Lee made it clear that they’re pursuing legislation in 2018 to help curb the sale of games like Star Wars: Battlefront II if they contain premium priced, gambling-themed loot boxes.
The news comes courtesy of a video that Lee posted up on his YouTube channel, where he and a few others talk about the dangers of premium loot boxes and how it can lure kids (and some adults) to the dark side.
Lee explains in the video…
“We’re looking at legislation this coming year, which could prohibit access – or prohibit the sale of games to people underage in order to protect families, as well as prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms in those games. We’ve been talking with several other states as well; legislators there who are looking at the same thing.
“I think it’s important these issues are addressed before this becomes the new norm for every game.”
State representative Sean Quinlan explained that politicians didn’t let Joe Camel encourage kids to smoke cigarettes, so they shouldn’t allow Star Wars to influence kids to gamble.
A mother also explained that while parents need to be proactive in protecting their kids, not every parent can be with their kid all the time, everywhere. She explains that kids being introduced to these predatory practices while over at a friend’s house or while out and about means that parents can’t necessarily control access to that, and that they do need regulation to help.
I don’t know if the argument holds as much weight about parents not being able to oversee kids 24/7, but the bigger issue is that the mechanisms of random, premium loot boxes are based around the exact same concepts of slot machines. You don’t know what you’re getting, but you’re hoping for the best.
Some advocates for publishers, such as the ESRB, claimed that loot boxes can’t be gambling because you always get something. However, getting something of low value with the possibility of rolling and getting something of high value still works the same as a slot machine.
Lee further stressed in a Reddit post that it’s very possible to get action taken and for other states to get involved with the help of the community, stating that federal level support may be difficult but state level legislation is very doable…
“[…] Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.
“Even so, elected officials can’t do it alone. They need your support and you can compel action wherever you live by calling and emailing your own state legislators and asking them to act. But don’t stop there. Call your allies. Call your pastors and teachers and community leaders. Ask them to call your state legislators as well. Their voices are politically powerful.”
The Belgian Gaming Commission have already taken action and will be seeking to ban premium loot boxes in commercial games. Belgium’s Ministry of Justice will also attempt to work with others across Europe to also enact bans on premium loot boxes in games like Star Wars: Battlefront II , Need for Speed: Payback or Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.
A day before release, Electronic Arts disabled the premium loot boxes and microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)