The controversy surrounding loot boxes in video games continues, and now it’s made its way into Parliament. Daniel Zeichner, the Labour MP for Cambridge, has asked the UK Government questions about the links between loot boxes and gambling. There’ll now be a push for the UK’s existing gambling legislation to be applied to loot boxes.
Zeichner submitted his questions on October 6, and the Government will now be required to respond within a month. Zeichner put forward the questions following a meeting with one of his constituents, who’d asked the MP ‘whether gambling laws should apply to loot boxes in games’. This exchange was subsequently shared on Reddit. A petition has since been set up with the aim of adapting the UK gambling laws to include video games which target children, and because it’s now passed 10k signatures the Government will be formally required to respond.
This whole matter is becoming quite the sticky topic, and games industry ratings regulators the ESRB and PEGI have both taken the stance that loot boxes in video games ‘are not considered to be gambling.’ This is because the purchaser is ‘guaranteed to receive in-game goods’. In some circles this has been likened to the buying of collector card packs, with the understanding that receiving duplicates is all part-and-parcel of the process. Many other gamers feel it’s an additional cash-grab on the publisher's part.
Quite a few games have received flak recently for their inclusion of loot boxes. Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Star Wars Battlefront II, NBA 2K18, and Forza Motorsport 7 all include various forms of this system. What’s clear is that the discussion surrounding loot boxes is not going away anytime soon, and now it may only be a matter of time before the UK Government is forced to do something about it.