FTC To Investigate Predatory Loot Box Practices Sweeping Gaming Industry

US FTC commits to investigating loot boxes in video games By Keshav Bhat

The United States Federal Trade Commission has pledged to explore apparent "endemic" loot boxes in the video games industry, following a potential connection to child gambling. Earlier today at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, FTC chairman Joe Simons told the Hassan that he would be looking into the matter in an official capacity, per a report from Polygon. In a recent Congressional oversight committee hearing, Hassan once again brought up the topic of loot boxes. Now we may get some resolution to the question of "Are loot boxes a gateway to gambling?" here in the States. In her speech, Hassan talks about how regulatory bodies in other countries such as Belgium have taken steps to regulate loot boxes due to their "close link to gambling".

The inquiry is mostly focused on the dangers facing children, rather than the ethical side of the argument.

Why parents would sign off on these loot box purchases wasn't made clear. Critics of loot boxes fear that it's a predatory practice that essentially exposes children to the idea of gambling.

World leaders meet for G20
Asked about the impact of tariffs on the economy, Kudlow said, "we are in a position to deal with it and handle it very well". Trump didn't discuss dedicated gaming hardware specifically, but he did comment on the potential for a hike in iPhone prices.

The report opens with a definition of loot boxes as "a broad concept extending to any model that provides a consumer with the option of making small purchases within a game or other application", using either real money or "game points". "Loot boxes will represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022, according to the latest research estimates".

Video game makers have defended loot boxes as a way to provide additional, optional content to players after a game has been published. Belgium has been the most heavy-handed, forcing some publishers to remove loot box mechanics.

Polygon reached out to the ESA and the organization said, "Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer". However, the ESRB does not agree with Senator Hassan that loot boxes are a form of gambling. They work like this: You fork over cash to buy a mystery box, which may contain a valuable in-game item-but only if you're lucky. The ESRB continues to defend them as "enhancements" to videogame experiences, and it's quite clear the "AAA" game industry has no intention of regulating itself, even in the face of possible outside intervention.

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