An investigation into video game loot boxes has been pledged by the government.
Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) put forward the request to The Federal Trade Commission, asking that they could be investigated as they represent a “close link” to gambling.
Hassan said: “Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smart phone games to the newest, high budget releases.”
She added that loot boxes will “represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022,” likely referring to a report earlier this year from Juniper Research, reports Polygon.
Hassan said: “It’s time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected,
“And to educate parents about potential addiction and other negative impacts of these games. She asked if the FTC will investigate further and “report back.” They agreed.
This isn’t the first time Senator Hassan has raised questions regarding in-game purchases. Earlier this year, she wrote to the Entertainment Software Rating Board to ask how games with loot boxes are rated. As a result, the ESRB added an “in-game purchases” label to games that include loot crates.
Hassan warned that children are particularly susceptible to loot boxes, and that they represent a “close link” to gambling therefore requiring some kind of warning.
She added that other countries, including Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium, could also bring in legislation to control the use of video game loot boxes.
The ESA sent Polygon a statement, that read: “Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.”