The British government has warned the gaming industry that it’s ready to look into loot boxes with a potential crackdown on the horizon.
Earlier in the summer, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced it would be approaching the public for evidence over loot boxes, with some suggestions the in-game features are encouraging children to gamble.
Today, three months after raising initial concerns, a statement on the government’s website says the DCMS intends to gather evidence to establish whether loot boxes could be causing addictive behaviour in kids.
“The Government has launched a call for evidence on the impact of loot boxes in video games, to examine concerns they may encourage or lead to problem gambling,” the statement reads.
“The open call for evidence will help us understand peoples’ positive and negative experiences of loot boxes in video games. It will seek the experiences of players and their parents or guardians as well as rigorous, high-quality data and research from games companies, academia, civil society as well as any other organisations with an interest in the issue.”
Loot boxes are in-game containers that carry virtual items such as skins or weapons, and players purchase them with either virtual or real-world currency. The contents of the boxes are unknown, so players buy them in the hope they receive something worthwhile.
With loot boxes featuring in games that are predominantly aimed at children, some have suggested they represent a form of gambling, which could lead to addictive tendencies both now and in later life. The aim of the government is to establish the impact loot boxes are having and whether or not they should be deemed as gambling.
The statement also says the government is looking to find out how much the in-game purchase market is in the UK, and it says it won’t hesitate to put new regulations in place if the findings suggest loot boxes are potentially harmful.
“The government stands ready to take action should the outcomes of the call for evidence support taking a new approach to ensure users, and particularly young people, are better protected.”
The calls for evidence will open until 22 November so if you’d like to share your experiences then head over to the government’s official website.