Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England has recently called for the implementation of stricter measures regarding loot boxes so that underage players are better protected. It is thought that some young gamers end up spending hundreds of pounds on ‘loot boxes’ that are available in video games.
What are loot boxes in the gaming industry?
Loot boxes, which are offered in many popular games such as Fortnite and Fifa, give players the chance to pay for real money with the potential opportunity of winning special equipment, characters or items that video game players cannot otherwise access in the game itself. As a result, many see these loot boxes as a way to progress in the game they are playing.
Why are loot boxes considered controversial?
Opponents of loot boxes believe these can be considered gambling. This is because when players make payment for a loot box, it remains unknown exactly what they are paying for because they do not know what will end up being in the loot box once paid and opened.
In addition, these loot boxes could potentially encourage gambling-harms as players may potentially start trying to chase losses by purchasing more loot boxes.
What has the children’s commissioner said?
Longfield has asked for ministers to swiftly make amendments to current legislation so that loot boxes can also be considered as gambling, which at this moment in time, it is not considered to be.
The children’s commissioner has also called on the government to roll out a daily spending limit aimed at children, as a way of better tackling the issue of excessive spending on in-game items.
In addition, Anne Longfield has also warned that children who play video games could be at a higher risk of being exploited by game operators that offer them the chance to purchase loot boxes in their games. This is why she wants to see the government amend section 6 of the Gambling Act 2005 swiftly so that underage players are better protected against potential gambling -harms.