FTC Workshop Will Look Into Loot Box Issues

The Federal Trade Commission has announced its plans to hold a public workshop in August with the goal of examining loot boxes in video games as well as the issues that accompany them. Titled "Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes," the workshop will bring together different individuals ranging from stakeholders to government officials and academics as they look at loot boxes and "the potential behavioral impact of these virtual rewards on young consumers."

The FTC will hold the workshop on August 7th and will address topics surrounding loot boxes such as how they're marketed to young consumers and the idea of in-game purchases in general. An announcement for the FTC's upcoming workshop acknowledged that loot boxes can either be acquired with in-game money players earn naturally or can be purchased outright and also recognized how profitable loot boxes have become for the companies that employ them in their games.

"Players buy loot boxes using virtual currency that they may earn within the game or purchase with real money," the FTC's announcement said. "Loot boxes have produced a growing revenue stream for game developers. At the same time, concerns have been raised about techniques used to market loot boxes and whether minors are becoming addicted to these in-game purchases."

Neither names of speakers that'll be in attendance during the workshop nor an agenda has been set yet, but the FTC did establish three main topics that'll be covered during the workshop.

  • The in-game transaction landscape, including the origins and evolution of loot boxes and their role in game play and the digital marketplace;
  • Research examining consumer behavior, including child and adolescent behavior, in the context of video games and digital transactions; and
  • A discussion of consumer awareness and education about in-game digital transactions, including the mechanics, marketing, and financial commitments associated with loot boxes.

It's worth noting that this FTC workshop doesn't necessarily mean that regulations pertaining to the loot boxes are coming anytime soon or even at all, though it will be interesting to see what comes of the workshop. It'll be held on Washington, D.C., on August 7th, but it'll also be streamed online via the FTC's website.



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