With the presence of loot boxes in video games being as controversial as ever, many countries are working hard to address the issue. One such country doing exactly that is the United Kingdom, who's looking to have legislations implemented to protect children from such dangerous gambling mechanics. The most vocal individual talking about this is England children commissioner Anne Longfield, who made it clear that action must happen.
"Children have told us they worry they are gambling when they buy loot boxes, and it’s clear some children are spending hundreds of pounds chasing their losses. I want the government to classify loot boxes in games like Fifa as a form of gambling. A maximum daily spend limit for children would also be reassuring for parents and children themselves," Longfield explained.
Her hope is that the UK government will amend current laws to classify loot boxes as gambling. With their appearance made in video games like Fifa and Overwatch (video games targeted primarily towards underage individuals), this would make them illegal. Longfield has also stressed the importance of a maximum daily spending limit for children in order to stop all unnecessary in-game spending.
Longfield had previously released a report on loot boxes called "Gaming the System", detailed many issues concerning loot boxes that were mentioned previously. Other concerns addressed here include children feeling addicted to playing video games, and don't feel as though they're in control of how much they play them. Depending on their age, children may play anywhere from one to three hours of video games per day. This report did acknowledge that playing online games can and does help a child develop friendships and strategic skills and that it's all very rewarding. However, it also pointed out young people are ripe for being exploited by AAA game companies because loot boxes play on a child's need to keep up with friends. That only encourages a child to want to spend money on loot boxes- oftentimes astronomical amounts, too.
When speaking about the commissioner's report, one government spokesperson said, "Video games can be enjoyed by children safely as part of a healthy lifestyle and we encourage parents to use built-in controls to set spending and time limits. But we are clear children must always be protected from harm and we will carefully consider the concerns raised in this report in relation to excessive or gambling-like behaviour."
It's currently hard to tell if any legislation will go through, as the video game industry is fighting it from taking place. All we can do is sit back and wait to see what all will happen next. But for the sake of the UK, here's hoping that they'll be successful in keeping loot boxes away from children.