The UK government has opened its call for evidence over the use of ‘randomised monetisation mechanics’ aka loot boxes in videogames.
The call is asking for input and feedback from gamers (and their parents/guardians), developers, industry, and academia over concerns that the use of loot boxes are harmful and should be subject to restrictions under the Gambling Act.
The consultation is calling for both positive and negative experiences of loot boxes and other randomised monetisation in video games.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has already carried out extensive research into the use of lootboxes and similar mechanics in a gaming context.
Towards the end of 2019, the committee concluded that loot boxes are harmful, particularly to children, a conclusion supported by the NHS’ mental health director and UK Children’s Commissioner.
The committee recommended that games containing lootboxes should not be sold to children. This conclusion was supported by the House of Lords gambling committee in July 2020.
While industry representatives have engaged with the government in the recent past, the results were not exactly positive.
So this is an opportunity for the industry to take some sort of responsibility and act in the best interests of both the games sector and vulnerable players.
Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Digital and Culture told GamesIndustry.biz:
Our valued video game industry is making good progress developing safer environments for our children to play in, such as parental controls that can be set to schedule and limit playtime.
But we’ve listened to parents’ concerns about loot boxes and it’s right that we fully examine and understand any evidence of the harm or links to problem gambling they can cause, so we can decide if action is needed.
The deadline for submissions is November 22, 2020. The submission form, along with more information on the call can be found on the government’s website.