Several popular gaming franchises have found a way to further monetize their products with the creation of loot boxes. If you’ve ever purchased a loot box you’ll know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, a loot box is a collection of game play benefits called loot. They may include extra powers, more life and a host of of possible game enhancements. The collections are always randomized so you buy them not knowing what they will contain or if the loot will be useful to you. You’re basically gambling on the odds of getting something decent with no guarantees. Since you’re shelling out cash for the loot box, it’s considered to be a form of gambling.
Proposed Hawaii Loot Box Ban Makes Sense
Nearly everyone is in agreement that most types of gambling should be accessible for adults only. It’s not an activity that is appropriate for minors. The proposed Hawaii loot box ban would restrict the sale of video games that come with loot box features. While the sales are high and game publishers are raking in a tidy sum from the sale of advertised loot boxes, it has created a problem with underage kids making the purchases with their parents’ credit cards. You can buy several loot boxes and not come up with useful game enhancements, which leads to buying more until something decent is included. This activity amounts to gambling and kids are currently doing it. This is why the Hawaiian ban proposal makes so much sense.
Two bills going through Hawaiian legislature
The two bills currently under consideration call for a ban on minors purchasing video games with loot features included. Adults would still be able to buy them, but with the gambling content potential featured, they are not considered to be age appropriate for anyone under the gambling age of 21. Just like for online casinos that operate responsibly, people who buy the games would need to verify that they are at least age 21 or older. In addition, game developers and manufacturers would be required to change the way they do business by properly label the packages regarding loot box content and give accurate probability rates for the rewards and the types available.
Impact If Legislation is Passed
If passed, the bills will reduce the level of exploitation of children and parents that is currently being experienced. Minor access to loot box features will be sharply reduced unless the parents allow them to gain access. This puts the ball in the adult’s court and it will be their responsibility to ensure that no unauthorized purchases are made. Many parents are not currently aware that the threat exists. Passing of thee bill will hopefully make more people take notice of the potential for financial loss due to minors gambling on the odds of getting the rewards they want from loot boxes.
Hawaii’s not the first to recognize this issue.
Although Hawaii is the first state in the US to act on the perceived threat from loot boxes, they are not the first in the world. As early as 2012, Japan placed restrictions on gacha, which was a type of loot box system found in the Puzzles and Dragons game. China set restrictions on loot boxes in place in 2016 and
Singapore enacted an outright ban on all remote gambling where there was no monetary gain involved in the purchase in 2014. These countries have been joined by New Zealand, the UK, South Korea, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries that recognize gambling must be made inaccessible to children.
If the current legislation is passed, it will force game developers and publishers to make a hard choice. They will be forced to decide whether they prefer to sell their games without the additional attempts at monetizing them or if they wish to limit who can buy and use the games.