A U.S. Senator has announced a bill that could lead to a loot box ban. Specifically, the bill targets loot boxes as well as pay-to-win microtransactions in “games played by minors.”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced the bill, which is known as the “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act.” He states in his press release that the bill will be introduced into the U.S. Senate soon.
As the name implies, the bill specifically targets games played by minors. It defines these broadly as both games targeted for players under 18 as well as games “whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions.”
“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction,” Hawley states in a press release. “And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”
The language Hawley uses indicates that the bill covers all games, not just the those targeted at minors. As Hawley states, even games designed for adults will be affected by the bill. This could have far reaching implications for the industry as a whole.
The U.S. Senate has investigated games with loot boxes before. Last fall the Federal Trade Commission started an investigation into them. Prior to this Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Ed Markey (D-MA) raised concerns about loot boxes and how children were susceptible to them.
Back then, the FTC’s involvement raised concerns that the U.S. could eventually put up its own loot box ban. Already, other countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, have introduced anti-loot box legislation, blocking them in games such as CS:GO, and Overwatch. Meanwhile a few other nations are also looking into the issue. It is possible that the U.S passing a loot box ban could cause them to follow suit.