The British gaming industry is seeking higher profits which have driven them to use loot boxes. However, in an effort to rake in the maximum revenue, the gaming industry has gotten closer to gambling than ever. Though loot boxes are not technically recognized as a form of gambling, the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, wants them to be regulated.
Gambling restriction for loot boxes
According to Longfield, loot boxes should be subject to the same regulation as gambling. She wants loot boxes to be recognized as gambling and ensuring that the maximum spending limits are applied to this sector. Longfield recently wrote a report titled ‘Gaming the System’ in which she details how children are scared of how loot boxes could affect their playtime. The report collected data on a number of hours spent in gaming and contained interviews of kids on loot boxes.
The report states that younger children, aged 10-11, were spending more time gaming. These kids spent 2-3 hours per day playing games against 1-3 hours of game time for older children aged 15-16. The older kids liked FIFA, a game that offers such options. According to a 14-year-old kid, the box doesn’t add any value to their gaming experience but they click on it anyway.
Not against gaming
Longfield noted that gaming has numerous benefits like helping develop new skills and building friendships. However, these benefits could be realized even without loot boxes. She said,
“Children have told us they worry they are gambling when they buy loot boxes, and it’s clear some children are spending hundreds of pounds chasing their losses.”
Based on the report, she urged the government to categorize the boxes as gambling and slap a daily spending limit so parents and children themselves could be protected from the ill-effects of gambling.
She is not the first person in the UK to talk about loot box regulations. Several members of the parliament and the UK Gambling Commission has also expressed concerns about this feature and called for adequate regulation. It is interesting to note that this feature generally doesn’t profit the users significantly. However, the tactics employed in this feature are similar to gambling. This could introduce kids to slot machines and other forms of gambling at a young age.
A government spokesperson said that video games are a part of a kid’s healthy lifestyle and parents must make use of time and spending limits on games. He also talked about considering the issues raised by the report.