Following in Belgium’s footsteps, the UK Government are being pressured about the liability of loot boxes. A report by the digital, culture, media and sport committee (DCMS) found that increased measures should be in place to protect players. The committee put a strong focus on young people who lack proper judgement over in-game purchases.
Examples were brought forward, highlighting the questionable practices these companies put forward. EA’s use of packs for Ultimate Team in FIFA has come under scrutiny once again in the report. Their system is introduced every year and players must pay up to acquire footballers for the online mode. The option to pay money for these “packs” was banned in Belgium earlier this year.
FIFA isn’t the only game to provide similar purchase options, as we all know. The report also covers games like RuneScape, where one player is reported to have gone over £50,000 in debt through microtransactions. The developer, Jagex, has measures in place to put a cap on spending but only to prevent fraud. There are options to enable a payment block or even to suspend or delete an account on RuneScape. However, for data protection purposes only the account holder/user can enable these. Parents who are paying for their children’s in-game spending cannot alter these options within RuneScape.
Loot box measures have been introduced recently by wider gaming authorities. The major platform holders, including Microsoft, are working on policies to disclose loot box odds. However, this appears to do little to stop people spending and we don’t think it’ll make much difference in its current state.
Will this report help the industry tackle the loot box problem?