Tell GR | Should microtransactions and loot boxes be banned?

Should loot boxes be banned? Microtransactions and loot boxes have become dirty words in the community surrounding the gaming industry, and it’s understandable why. They mostly add little to the game aside from getting players to fork out more cash, in the past entire progression systems have been based around them, and they’re representative of a wider problem with increasingly controversial “live service” games. Put simply, a lot of people wish that they could be wiped from the industry entirely.

But should there be laws put in place to prevent them from being inserted into games? That’s the topic of this week’s Tell GR, so be sure to let us know what YOU think in the comments section below!

Paul Tamburro, executive editor: “I don’t think they should be banned, but they should be more closely regulated. Age ratings should also factor in loot boxes, as kids shouldn’t be playing games in which they’re encouraged to spend cash on randomized items. I can’t foresee loot boxes being banned worldwide, but I think there should definitely be systems put in place which discourage publishers from going so OTT with them. Slapping a game with a higher certificate rating because it includes them would do just that.”

Mack Ashworth, lead editor: “Spending real money on loot boxes should absolutely be banned/labeled as gambling and clearly disclosed. Microtransactions, even where they are used to purchase cosmetics, are less offensive to me, but are still a problem. I find them particularly nasty when they are added to a full-priced game post-launch, like with Black Ops 4. I think it needs to be made clear before launch what microtransactions are planned, to stop players buying into something that is set to dramatically change.”

Bradley Russell, news editor: “I think we should make a clear-cut distinction. Microtransactions, for the most part, are harmless and the consumer has a choice on whether or not to buy a certain thing. Loot boxes, meanwhile, actively encourage gambling for under-18s, and to feed that compulsion at such a young age is borderline criminal in my eyes. Loot boxes should be phased out, just like they have been in Belgium, while microtransactions can stay — just as long as they don’t bring back horse armor.”

Michael Leri, features editor: “Legally banned? Probably not. But publishers need to reign it in. And they won’t so they’ll probably have to be legislatively restrained. We probably wouldn’t be in this mess had loot boxes been up front and less manipulative with stats and appropriate safeguards. There wouldn’t be as big of a hubbub surrounding loot boxes but the overwhelming greed surrounding them has put them in the spotlight in a way that lawmakers can’t ignore.”