It was only a matter of time before this reached a legal level. A set of bills recently introduced to Hawaii lawmakers aims to place limits on what they believe is gambling in certain kinds of in-game micro-transactions. After the fiasco surrounding loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront just months ago, State Representative Chris Lee from Oahu began an effort to regulate what could and could not be sold in loot boxes.
Battlefront II found itself under fire for the practice of randomizing loot boxes with specific items that gave players certain massive unfair advantages over others, including better weapons for in-game battles. Now, the state seeks to do something about it with four bills introduced for the purposes of legislation. The game also received considerable amounts of heat for raffling off iconic saga characters like Darth Vader as easy giveaways in loot boxes. This meant, back then, that players either had the choice of sitting down and playing the game for actual hundreds of hours in order to acquire their favorite characters, or cave in and buy loot boxes until, eventually, they managed to unlock those characters. EA has since done work to even out the odds, removing loot boxes from the game for a while before figuring out what to do about them.
"We've heard from a number of families who have come together saying they've been impacted," Lee told Hawaii News Now back in November. "One family in Kailua whose children had stolen credit cards from their parents in order to pay for content like this." As of one month ago, the bills were introduced to legislators in four parts. House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024 aim to prohibit sales of any game that offers the ability to make in-game purchases to anyone under the age of 21. House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025 propose that game publishers must be required to clearly label games that contain in-game purchases, like many mobile games do.
"I grew up playing games my whole life," Representative Lee told the Hawaii Tribune this week. "I've watched firsthand the evolution of the industry from one that seeks to create new things to one that's begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit."