Regulations on loot boxes and microtransactions in video games might get much tighter if this proposed law in the United States passes.
US Senator for Missouri Josh Hawley has proposed a bill entitled “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act“, which aims to heavily regulate video games with a target audience of people under 18 years of age. The Entertainment Software Association, lobbying for video games, was not amused, to say the least.
The bill proposal is nothing but a broad outline of what it could actually entail at this point in time, but Hawley and his consultants made quite the job of making it seem like a politician actually knew what he was talking about regarding the topic of video games. The bill lists two specific forms of what is called manipulative design and defines them for the purpose of the bill itself: Loot boxes and Pay to win mechanics.
Any avid gamer is familiar with these terms and to a lot of us, these are massive thorns in our sides but are also massive income opportunities for publishers, specifically with random loot boxes. Calling these practices manipulative is not too far fetched, as a small percentage of players called “whales” generates the biggest profits for most companies but even feel preyed on in some cases.
I think it’s a highly exciting topic and I can’t wait to see how this bill actually turns out if it should amount to something. On the one hand, it could mean massive cuts to the freedom of not only the customers but also the way how some publishers wish to conduct their business. On the other hand, some might argue the video game industry has failed to control itself with states like Belgium already restricting microtransactions. Using some of these predatory practices against minors especially is vile, but we all loved our Pokémon cards back in the day… right?