Video game companies should be banned from selling so-called loot boxes to children over fears they can turn them into gambling addicts, MPs said last night.
A nine-month parliamentary inquiry by the UK's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport resulted in an 84-page report based on evidence taken from game developers, trade bodies, and academics, though it claimed there was a "lack of honesty and transparency" among game company representatives. During the hearings, Electronic Arts, which makes Federation Internationale de Football Association, denied the feature constituted gambling, describing it instead as a "surprise mechanic".
What did the report find?
MPs also called for any games that contained loot boxes to be clearly labeled "gambling" and rated age 18. That places loot boxes under the umbrella of the gambling act, and would require these mechanics to be regulated as gambling.
The Gambling Act was introduced back in 2005. He also says that it's about time that United Kingdom gambling laws caught up to the reality of the situation. But because it's not officially sanctioned by Electronic Arts, it's also not considered gambling.
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The report concludes that "loot boxes that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance to be games of chance played for money's worth".
To tackle issues surrounding paid-for loot boxes, the report also suggests that loot boxes should be earned through in-game credits, which would prevent players handing over real cash.
What else has the DCMS called for?
However, the committee heard from a gamer who said they spent "almost £800 to £1000 a year annually on FIFA" loot boxes trying to improve their team.