The UK Government has decided against taking harsher action against loot boxes in video games despite finding evidence to suggest a “consistent” association between the gaming feature and problem gambling.
A 22-month investigation into loot boxes has just come to an end in the UK, with no restrictions being made to reduce or minimize them. The official response to the consultation has just been released. Within, the local Government talks at large about how a ban could actually do more harm than good.
“Legislation to introduce an outright ban on children purchasing loot boxes could have the unintended effect of more children using adult accounts, and thus having more limited parental oversight of their play and spending,” stated the Government in response to the decision.
They then went on to add that, “our view is that it would be premature to take legislative action without first pursuing enhanced industry-led measures to deliver protections for children and young people and all players.”
And while nothing is being done at the moment to combat the growing issue that loot boxes pose, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) is calling on the gaming industry to work with countries and organizations to make loot boxes a safer feature in gaming.
The DCMS stated how they “expect games companies and platforms to improve protections for children, young people and adults, and for tangible results to begin to be seen in the near future.”
UK Culture Minister Nadine Dorris has ruled out a proper ban on loot boxes in the UK. Instead, Dorris has reiterated that “industry-led” protection is the path the UK will focus on.
Loot boxes have become the center of many discussions in regards to if and how these in-game items promote gambling habits and addiction. Almost all big free-to-play games include them. The gaming community has expressed their dissatisfaction with these popular titles gouging extra money.
However, devs still manage to include them without any real repercussions for the time being. Some franchises do have plans to move away from the system. For example, the upcoming Overwatch 2 has been confirmed to not include a loot box system in favor of a Battle Pass system instead.
Many countries across the world have begun focusing their attention on combating the phenomenon. In 2018, Belgium banned loot boxes altogether and declared them to be “in violation of gambling legislation.