The US Federal Trade Commission will investigate loot boxes

Star Wars Battlefront II Vader

In-game loot boxes to be the subject of an FTC investigation

The UK Gambling Commission has previously said that loot boxes 'blur the lines" between video games and gambling and pledged, along with 13 other European commissions and the Washington State Gambling Commission to "thoroughly analyse' how loot boxes are created to ensure they comply with gambling laws.

Following the filing of a report that saw a significant increase in child gambling, Senator Maggie Hassan called for loot crates, or loot boxes, to be investigated, and FTC chairman Joe Simons has confirmed the request. The brief exchange on the matter can be found here.

The Belgian Gambling Commission said in April this year that loot boxes did constitute gambling and were unlawful under current regulations. Hassan during her questioning.

With her argument, Hassan stated, "Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smart phone games to the newest, high budget releases".

"Loot boxes represent the evolution of revenue streams in the gaming industry. Children may be particularly susceptible to engaging with these in-game purchases which are often considered integral components of video games".

"It's time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected", she said.

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ESRB parent organisation, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has previously eschewed scrutiny against loot boxes in order to preserve the integrity of testing new "business models".

In said linked report, we also touched on rulings made by the Belgium government - it's completely banned loot boxes within the country - and that other countries could soon follow suit.

A year ago, loot boxes were a persistent annoyance for gamers, but they didn't get much attention from the rest of the world.

There's no telling how long it will take the FTC to investigate loot boxes or, if it agrees that they need to be regulated, how it will do so. Or would you rather see the subject of loot boxes left up to the market and consumers? "They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not".

The list of games containing loot boxes has grown in recent months and includes popular titles, such as "Fortnite", "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" and "FIFA 18". It all started toward the end of 2017, when EA's heavy-handed loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 caused a ton of controversy and eventually forced EA to backtrack.

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