The FTC (The Federal Trade Commission), an independent agency of the United States government that governs over issues like consumer rights, have announced that they will hold a workshop on August 7th at the Constitution Center in Washington, D.C., where the topic of discussion will be loot boxes and their effects on consumers. It will be open to the public and livestreamed. As of now there is no list of speakers, but the announcement does say that they have invited “industry representatives, consumer advocates, trade associations, academics, and government officials.”
As far as what will be covered at the workshop, this list was given as follows:
- The in-game transaction landscape, including the origins and evolution of loot boxes and their role in game play and the digital marketplace;
- Research examining consumer behavior, including child and adolescent behavior, in the context of video games and digital transactions; and
- A discussion of consumer awareness and education about in-game digital transactions, including the mechanics, marketing, and financial commitments associated with loot boxes.
While the practice of randomized lootboxes has been common practice for years, particularly in the mobile game space, a controversy erupted around the release of EA and DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 for its use of the monetization method in that game. The resulting controversy opened up a broad conversation about the practice, with many critics saying it exploits gambling addiction and that lootboxes should be labeled and treated as gambling, and be under the same federal regulations casinos and other gambling ventures are. Countries like Belgium have already been taking steps in the same direction.
However you happen to feel about the practice, you can make your voice heard by weighing in. The commission is taking online submissions about the issue up until October 11th, 2019.