On the 26th of September this year, the UK Government issued a call for evidence on lootboxes. Specifically, they asked for “evidence on the impact of lootboxes in video games to examine concerns they may encourage or lead to problem gambling.” Well, the deadline is up. At exactly 23.59 today the open consultation comes to a close. After then, no more evidence will be considered.
The invitation to contribute to this global discussion came itself following the UK Governments response to the DCMS Select Committee. This focused on Immersive and Addictive Technologies Inquiry earlier in June. It advised the government to take action on the better governing of the controversial practice. The Government since committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 with specific focus on tackling issues around online lootboxes. This targeted two specific groups, posing tailored questions for each:
• Video games players and adults responsible for children and young people who play video games, through the Loot Box Call for Evidence – Player Experience Questions Survey. Alternatively, a feedback form can be downloaded from this page. Further details on how to respond are included in the Loot Box Call for Evidence document accessible on this page.
• Video games businesses, and researchers and organisations interested in video games and loot boxes – Questions and details on how to respond are included in the Loot Box Call for Evidence document accessible on this page.
In a statement issued at the time on Gov.UK, the Minister of Digital Culture, Caroline Dinenage said,
“Our valued video game industry is making good progress developing safer environments for our children to play in, such as parental controls that can be set to schedule and limit playtime. But we’ve listened to parents’ concerns about loot boxes and it’s right that we fully examine and understand any evidence of the harm or links to problem gambling they can cause, so we can decide if action is needed.”UK Minister of Digital Culture, Caroline Dinenage
The above heat-map demonstrates growing concern on lootbox practices within the Uk
This of course follows the global trend of increased scrutiny from various governing bodies looking to better regulate the use of micro-transactions within gaming. Japan was the first nation to take action back in 2012, declaring the practice illegal. In 2016 China forced publishers to share not just the possible rewards available, but also the probability of receiving it, with further restrictions coming in later years. The Netherlands followed suit in 2018, and of a study of 10 companies it found 4 to be in breach of gambling regulations. Belgium soon followed their neighbour, declaring all lootboxes illegal in online gaming.
The time to act is now
The list goes on and on. It seems that life imitates art, and the reverse is true. With lootboxes and micro-transaction society spreading like a virus in recent decades, finally it seems the antidote is catching up.
Today marks the last opportunity to make your opinion known, and contribute to the discussion in the UK. Have you, or someone that depends on you been affected by the lootbox pandemic? If so you have until midnight to have your say. We invite you to go to the gov.uk website and do exactly that. Perhaps we can finally rid ourselves of this vile, insidious practice, in the UK at least.
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