Published: Fri, May 10, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

United States senator proposes ban on loot boxes and microtransactions

United States senator proposes ban on loot boxes and microtransactions

"Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids' attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits", Hawley said in a statement on his website. It would affect games that target minors under 18, or ones with a wide audience that children also play, such as Fortnite.

A new bill could do away with such in-app purchases. This especially holds true considering the decision of countries like Belgium, which have already decided that microtransactions, loot boxes, and the like are similar to gambling and worthy of strict regulation.

Mr Hawley singled out Candy Crush, a free game that allows players to purchase a $149 (£114) bundle that includes 1,000 units of its in-game currency. Under the bill, such games would prohibit loot boxes, defined here as "microtransactions offering randomized or partially randomized rewards to players".

"Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences", said Senator Hawley in the same press release.

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley wants to stop publishers from including loot boxes in titles which are marketed to children.

If the bill is passed it could apply to games like Overwatch and Apex Legends that have loot boxes and other ways for players to spend real money on in-game items.

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The Washington Post noted that "parents have complained to the Federal Trade Commission that such charges often happen without their permission or end up being much larger than they expect".

The association's president and CEO, Stanley Pierre-Louis, told the Kansas City Star in an email, "Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy-to-use parental controls".

"Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling", the statement reads.

The initiative patterns itself on regulations passed in other countries including Belgium, Ireland and Germany as well as that passed in U.S. states including California and Washington.

The pledge came in response to Democratic Sen. As a result, the FTC plans to hold a workshop around the topic this August. State attorneys would also be able to file lawsuits against video game makers that violate the ban. The proposal gained early support Wednesday from groups that advocate on behalf of parents. First, you have free-to-play games that start by giving players a smooth but "false" sense of progression upon initial download.

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