The Federal Trade Commission today decided to investigate videogame traps following a formal request from Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
At a Congressional Oversight Committee hearing earlier in the day, FTC President Joe Simons confirmed Senator Hassan's request to investigate the boxes. The exchange took place as part of a Senate trade subcommittee hearing, primarily focused on data privacy issues, but in other jurisdictions.
"Chests are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in all areas, from casual smartphone games to the latest versions and high budget," said Hassan, adding that the booty chests would represent " a $ 50 billion industry by 2022 ". probably referring to a report released earlier this year by Juniper Research.
Game publishers often include loot chests in their games, which offer bonuses and rewards in play, sometimes at a cost. Practice has blossomed in recent years, especially after a huge success in games such as the FIFA series, but it also met resistance from consumers last year. In 2017, Electronic Arts has been redeveloped Star Wars Battlefront 2 as a result of accusations that the game was designed to extract money from players through loot boxes.
Hassan warned that children are particularly sensitive to chests and that they represent a "close connection" with the game. She talked about initiatives in other countries, including Japan, the Netherlands and the United States. Belgium, to legislate to control the use of surprise boxes. Last year, representatives Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan held a press conference in Hawaii that targeted booty boxes for attacking children.
Earlier this year, Senator Hassan wrote to the Entertainment Software Rating Board asking how games with loot boxes are ranked. The ESRB has subsequently added a "shopping in the game" tag to games containing loot boxes.
"It is time for the FTC to study these mechanisms to ensure that children are properly protected," said Hassan. "And educate parents about the potential for addiction and other negative impacts of these games. She asked Simons if the FTC would investigate further and "report back". Simons offered a simple "yes".
Polygon solicited comments from the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the interests of video game publishers at the government level.
Update: ESA sent us the following statement: "Boxes of loot are a means by which players can enhance the experience offered by video games. Contrary to the assertions, chests are not games of chance. They have no real value, players always receive something that enhances their experience and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not. "