A British politician has asked the UK government to regulate loot boxes in video games, requesting that the Secretary of State bring in plans that will “help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.”
Two separate requests were submitted by Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, each requesting that the UK government brings in new rulings regarding loot boxes in games. The first request reads: “To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.”
The second request specifically references the Isle of Man, which defines in-game items as money’s worth in its gambling laws. The request reads: “To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man’s enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK. ”
The debate surrounding loot boxes in video games has intensified over the past few weeks, with their inclusion in the likes of Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7 and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 leading to widespread discussion regarding whether or not their randomized contents should lead to them being reclassified as gambling. While it seems unlikely that these complaints would lead to the UK government enforcing policies that would effectively make video games more difficult to distribute in the region, some have argued that it at least applies pressure on publishers to rethink their stance on microtransactions and their pernicious impact upon their games.
On top of these requests from Zeichner, a petition requesting that gaming laws should be adapted in order to include loot boxes has reached over 10,000 signatures. According to UK law, any governmental petition that reaches 100,000 signatures will be discussed in parliament, with its current number of signatures already ensuring that the government will provide a formal response.