Loot Boxes Will Be Investigated by FTC

Microtransactions and loot boxes are almost universally despised by the gaming community these days. Even so, most companies that take charge of popular multiplayer titles use them as a means of making the majority of their money. The morality and ethics behind this are choppy, especially when players run into paywalls, pay-to-win, and random-chance loot boxes, especially when all of these appear in the context of a game that already costs money. However, the days of random loot boxes may be numbered in the United States; the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has promised a thorough investigation of the practice that could potentially outlaw them from the entire industry.

The question remains: are there grounds for banning loot boxes nationally? I say, “absolutely,” but perhaps not in the way a lot of people think and perhaps not even in the way the FTC intends to investigate the situation. The argument floats around that loot boxes simply deceive the players into believing their chances of receiving something of significant value are higher than the truth. While studios and publishers certainly want you to believe that, the most this will probably advocate for are the chances being listed for each item or type of item the loot box could give you. China enacted a similar policy earlier this year which let the cats out of their bags for many games. The true way we may see a ban in the United States relates to a conversation from earlier this year involving the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

It’s said that they considered (and still are considering) microtransactions and loot boxes effectively forcing a game into a mature rating. First of all, this would make the entire industry practically only for the ages of 17 and older. I doubt this will really go through, but the same premise could be used to wipe loot boxes clean off the state. The United States has strict gambling laws that prohibit people under the age of 18 from gambling; in some parts of the country, it even reaches 21. In other parts, certain types of sports gambling are banned altogether. Loot boxes closely resemble this idea of paying money for a chance at something possibly more valuable but usually less valuable.

Loot boxes arguably expose children and teenagers to gambling earlier than U.S. law intends. The FTC could decide that the mainstream appeal of video games – especially games like Fortnite – is unstoppable and that the most effective way to keep children from loot boxes is to disallow them. However, the beforementioned consideration by the ESRB could still serve as another option.

There are also questions surrounding what the industry will do in the event that loot boxes go away. Let the speculation begin! While loot boxes certainly get into some legal issues, microtransactions are here to stay, so companies will have that to bank on. However, I could see an evolution of the loot box coming out of this. This biggest issue is within the unknown chances and how they relate to kids. It will be interesting to see how the industry handles this.

No comments

Leave a Reply


Stellaris Announces Expansion Packs

Paradox Interactive is best known for their grand strategy titles, where you take control of an entire nation and control their resources and military in the quest for domination. One…

October 21, 2019, 109
Image taken from Sunless Skies Game, depicts the player ship entering a new town

Sunless Skies is Coming to Consoles in Early 2020

Isometric space-exploration game Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in the first half of 2020. While attending EGX, developer Failbetter Games announced…

October 20, 2019, 102

Personal Top 10 Johto Pokemon

I had a good time two weeks ago with my Kanto list, and since I’m staying on the hype train for Sword and Shield, I’m back for another completely objective top…

October 20, 2019, 144

Why I’ve Pre-Ordered Death Stranding

The moment I saw Norman Reedus sprouting forth a mushroom with his urine, I knew I had to pre-order Death Stranding. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly. Generally speaking,…

October 18, 2019, 150
Image from Obsidian forum. Depicts a map of the world with the release times of The Outer Worlds detailed for each time zone

The Outer Worlds Release Times and Day One Patch Size Revealed

The Outer Worlds is ready to launch in just over a week. With that mind, Obsidian has revealed the release times on each platform, as well as some details on…

October 17, 2019, 170

More Pokemon Gigantamax Forms Announced for Sword and Shield

Pokemon Sword and Shield keeps adding fuel to the meme fire with the newly announced Gigantamax forms for Pokemon such as Pikachu and Meowth. However, there are caveats to some…

October 16, 2019, 96
Pokémon Sword and Shield Key Art

More Pokémon Sword and Shield Information Tomorrow

Less than a week after we got a look at the newest Pokémon being introduced to Pokémon Sword and Shield, the game’s official Twitter account posted a Tweet announcing that…

October 15, 2019, 109
Overwatch Nintendo Switch

Blizzard Cancels Overwatch Nintendo Switch Event Following blitzchung Incident

Blizzard, following the action taken against Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai, has canceled the launch event for Overwatch on Switch that was originally scheduled for Wednesday, October 16. This was announced…

October 15, 2019, 171
Fortnite Chapter 2 Screenshot

Fortnite Chapter 2 Drops Players Into New Territory

After the world-ending black hole event took Fortnite off the map, the game is back in the form of Fortnite Chapter 2. The revamped version of the popular battle royale…

October 15, 2019, 161
image from box art of Silent Hill. Depicts protagonist Harry Mason close to the camera

Silent Hill Retrospective – The Sound of Silence

There’s nothing much that can be said about Silent Hill that hasn’t already been said. Instead, Silent Hill is very much a game where I’d prefer to focus on how…

October 15, 2019, 982