US authorities are gearing up for a new series of video game chests as the Federal Trade Commission prepares to open an investigation into the increasingly popular business model at the request of Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.
Loot Boxes are virtual packages containing digital elements for use in a specific video game; most games sell loot boxes for real money via micro-transactions, but some allow players to win them by playing too. The elements inside each virtual box are random, with chances of meeting each element defined in advance by the developer. Particularly rare objects often have very long chances. In some cases, items contained in a surprise box can enhance the player's gameplay, which makes them more likely to spend real money to acquire a digital object faster.
Detractors of the trunk's business model compare the practice to the game because the chances of getting specific items are often unknown to the buyer, and the desire to find the rarest items can cause some players to keep spending money for a game with a weak return. investment. While more and more video games are adopting lockers and micro-transactions as the norm, lawmakers around the world have worried about children being exposed to some form of entry-level gaming.
Read more:Regulators from more than a dozen countries are seeking to crack down on "booty boxes," a controversial video game practice that might be too similar to gambling.
At a surveillance hearing for the Federal Trade Commission, Senator Hassan asked the commissioners to investigate the practices of the malus box to ensure that children are protected against the commercial models that generate money. Habit or addiction and that parents are informed of other potential disadvantages. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan wrote an open letter to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, asking him to collect data on the use and revenue generated by micro-transactions in video games.
"The surprise boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in all areas, from games for casual smartphones to the latest releases of high-budget video games," said Senator Hassan during a video game. l & # 39; hearing. "The surprise boxes represent a $ 50 billion industry by 2022 according to the latest research estimates."
FTC President Joseph Simons agreed to investigate the model of the box and publish a report.
Senator Hassan's comments refer to a report published in April 2018 by the British company Juniper Research, which predicts that revenue from the loot box will rise from $ 30 billion this year to $ 50 billion by 2022. Juniper recommended Regulators to prevent teenage players from selling marked items. loot boxes or use them to play. Hassan also referred to a survey of 2,865 11- to 16-year-olds from the UK Gaming Commission, where 31% of participants had paid for a treasure chest or used an item to open the door. an object chest.
However, in a statement made to GamesIndustry.biz before Monday's hearing, the United Kingdom's Gaming Commission said that although 31% of the teens surveyed used object boxes, it was not clear that There is no direct correlation with games of chance.
The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the political interests of US video game companies, issued the following statement in response to Senator Hassan's comments:
"Chests are a means by which players can enhance the experience offered by video games." Contrary to assertions, chests are not a game. They have no real value, players always receive some something that enhances their experience, and they are totally optional They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not. "
ESA also stated that the ESRB already documented the presence of surprise boxes and other interactive elements in video games. Since February 2018, games rated by the ESRB are now labeled "Buy in the Game" when micro-transactions are present. Tools for parents to monitor the content of their children's games are available at parentaltools.org.
Read more:Video game addiction has sparked a cultural war in China and has a huge impact on the world's largest video game maker.
In September, the European Forum of Gaming Regulators issued a joint statement signed by officials from 15 European countries and the Washington State Gambling Commission, which reflected concerns about the potential link between boxes. loot and money games.
Some European countries have already put in place regulations on micro-transactions, which has led developers to reveal the chances of winning each item included in the boxes or to no longer sell their product. A Belgian survey of popular games such as "Overwatch", "FIFA 19", "Battlegrounds" of PlayerUnkown and "NBA 2K19" for their implementation of surprise boxes finally triggered a reform earlier this year.
Despite the warnings of politicians and the waves of outrage from consumers, gaming companies annually register a larger percentage of their revenue from micro-transactions. Some claim that buying optional surprise boxes is ultimately a matter of player choice, but critics worry that, like playing, the problem is not knowing when to stop.