UK government warns it “will not hesitate to consider legislation” against loot boxes

Image: Activision Blizzard

Loot boxes have long been a contentious talking point in the gaming industry, and the UK government has warned companies that restrictive legislation may be enforced in the future if the culture surrounding these purchases it does not change.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched an investigation into loot boxes in 2020 and concluded with a comparison between these in-game purchases and bets. Although there have been no formal repercussions from this report, the UK government announced yesterday that it may introduce legislation.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries had this to say on the subject:

“We want to prevent kids from spending sprees online without parental consent, fueled by in-game purchases like loot boxes.

“Game companies and platforms need to do more to ensure controls and age restrictions are in place so that players are protected from the risk of harm from gaming. They need to.”

Government recommendations predominantly focus on the role of parental permission in loot box purchases. This comes after Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all pledged to reveal loot box odds in 2019, though this information apparently didn’t have the intended effect of deterring players from the risks of random item purchases, by least not enough to appease the UK government.

A similar movement has taken place in both Germany and Belgium, and the growing concern of their respective governments about the dangers of loot box culture also links the practice to gaming habits. As a result, the free Nintendo titles Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes are not available for download in Belgium.

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Although the full repercussions of the UK government statement remain to be seen, it appears that the industry will soon have no choice but to change its approach if it wishes to continue operating in certain territories.

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