The FTC Is Investigating Loot Boxes, and the ESA Has Responded

Even though they aren’t quite as notorious as they were a while back with games like Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and Star Wars: Battlefront II, loot boxes are still of great concern to many players, particularly in sports games like NBA 2K19. And it sounds like the FTC has heard enough on the matter.

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Following the filing of a report that saw a significant increase in child gambling, Senator Maggie Hassan called for loot crates, or loot boxes, to be investigated, and FTC chairman Joe Simons has confirmed the request.

With her argument, Hassan stated, “Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smart phone games to the newest, high budget releases.” She also noted that such microtransactions could “represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022.”

Publishers have said in the past that loot boxes were no big deal, and some even stated they were just part of the business. However, complaints have been very heavy from fans, particularly with NBA 2K19, where 2K Sports noted it was just part of the game model.

Hassan noted that the biggest concern revolved around children, as we mentioned above. Other countries, such as Japan and Belgium, were choosing to bring in legislation when it came to keeping loot box content under control, so overspending wasn’t possible.

The ESRB has already made a movement with its rating system to note when games had “in-game purchases” available. But now Hassan wants something more done.

“It’s time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected,” she said. “And to educate parents about potential addiction and other negative impacts of these games.” With that, Simons confirmed that the group would look into it.

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Game publishers haven’t spoken up yet; but the ESA has, with the company stating, “Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.”

So what do you think? Are loot boxes a danger when it comes to gambling, or simply part of the experience? We have a feeling this argument could get heated very quickly.