The US Federal Trade Commission will investigate loot boxes

Loot boxes are under investigation in America. Credit EA

The loot box controversy returns as the United States Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will be investigating loot boxes after the rise of concerns that these systems are enabling and encouraging children to gamble.

Just last week we reported on a study conducted by the Gambling Commission, which highlighted a clear link between child gambling and video game loot boxes.

Loot boxes have never really sat well with the wider gaming public, but over the past year, push back against them seems to have come to a head.

In a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) discussed the issue of loot boxes with FTC commissioners. While the Aussie report acknowledges, and even sympathizes with, the economic realities of the video game industry, it ultimately found loot boxes to be a legitimate risk. It touches on the history of loot boxes and makes note of the importance of the game industry to Australia, and the importance of loot boxes to the game industry, which "faces economic challenges from piracy and arbitrage and as such, has had to develop a range of revenue streams beyond retail sales". These are distinct from other in-game purchases because the items in each box are random.

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Senator Hassan has attempted to tackle loot boxes prior to this incident; she sent a letter straight to the ESRB to request a further pry into loot boxes and how they should be rated.

In said linked report, we also touched on rulings made by the Belgium government - it's completely banned loot boxes within the country - and that other countries could soon follow suit.

The Belgian Gambling Commission said in April this year that loot boxes did constitute gambling and were unlawful under current regulations.

This hasn't satiated Hassan's concerns over the effects loot boxes have on children, classing the monetisation as an "endemic in the video game industry" across a multitude of platforms. Hassan raising all the points that have been raised before about loot boxes during the hearing with the FTC. "They can enhance the experience. but have no impact on those who do not". If not, you may end up with something you didn't need, which could tempt you to pay for another loot box to get something better (or perhaps regret buying the box in the first place).

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