UK government comments on loot boxes in video games


While the United States has relied on public opinion to keep video game developers away from loot boxes and gambling reward systems in games, the UK and parts of Europe continued to assess taking more direct steps towards regulation. Despite concluding that loot boxes are associated with “gambling harm, mental health, financial problems and gambling problems”, the UK has taken no steps forward on the plan. legal. His next step, it seems, is to pursue non-legal efforts to limit loot boxes.

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In a statement released by UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Dorries says the government wants to “stop children going online without their parents’ consent. parents”. Additionally, she specifically says she’s referring to the behavior, “driven by in-game purchases like loot boxes.” But, again, no direct action is taken. Instead, Dorries says, “companies and gaming platforms need to do more to ensure controls and age restrictions are enforced.” In other words, Dorries calls for self-regulation within the gaming industry.


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To potentially help the industry move in the right direction, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport plans to create a working group between regulators, platform holders and game developers. The hope is that this group will work together to establish new norms within it that will limit the access of loot boxes to children. No specific policy or objective was mentioned as an objective for this group. We don’t know if there are any expectations.

Skepticism about the direction of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is understandably high. The failure of the current UK government to pass legislation regulating loot boxes despite acknowledging its inherent harms is a contradiction some believe to be self-serving. In other words, the UK government is able to say it is taking the issue seriously while allowing the industry to continue unhindered.


The cynicism of the UK’s efforts is partly driven by frustrations with self-regulatory efforts in the US. The video game industry is self-regulating in the United States, with the ESRB acting as a non-governmental watchdog. The ESRB does not consider loot box games, despite research indicating otherwise. It was only under significant pressure that the ESRB introduced a warning label for paid loot boxes in 2020.

While efforts to regulate loot boxes in the UK and US have been thwarted, there are examples to the contrary. Belgium and the Netherlands consider loot boxes a form of illegal gambling, leading to games like Diablo Immortal not to be released there. There are also growing efforts in the European Union to regulate loot boxes in one way or another. Only time will tell how game-based gameplay mechanics like loot boxes are handled across the world.


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Source: Chronicle of video games


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