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New loot box investigations in US and Australia

04 December 2018

Last week the US Federal Trade Commission confirmed that it will be investigating loot boxes and their potential impact on children.

This decision follows concerns raised earlier in the year by US legislators that this now prevalent monetisation model is akin to gambling and should not be targeted at children.

Similarly, in Australia a parliamentary committee recently published its long-awaited report on loot boxes, which calls for an in-depth review of the use of loot boxes in video games. In particular, the report raises concerns about the potential behavioural impact loot boxes can have on young people.

Having received comparatively little attention in the latter quarter of this year, it looks like loot boxes are back on the global agenda.

Since loot boxes were last discussed in the US, both the Netherlands and Belgium have taken a hard line on the inclusion of loot boxes in games, so it will be interesting to see whether this approach will have any impact on the findings of either of these new investigations.

Back in September, the UK Gambling Commission issued a joint declaration (together with a number of other regulators) in which it raised concerns that the characteristics of emerging video games products and services are similar to those shown in online gambling products.

We are still waiting to see what (if any) impact this declaration will have in the UK but, given loot boxes seem to be drawing the attention of regulators from all over the world, there is little doubt they will still be a major talking point in 2019.

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