U.S. Senator reveals bill to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win

Republican Senator Josh Hawley has announced a bill intended to ban loot boxes and microtransactions in "games played by minors."

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Another U.S. politician has video games in his sights, though perhaps not for the reasons players are used to. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has recently unveiled a bill that looks to ban microtransactions and loot boxes in "games played by minors," specifically going after titles that are "designed for kids" which "monetize addiction."

Known as "The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act," the latest bill will soon be introduced to the U.S. Senate. It aims to cut down on the prevalence of microtransactions in games often played by children, and takes into account the controversy surrounding loot boxes, specifically toward the notion of them essentially being legitimized forms of gambling.

“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction,” the press release from Hawley's team reads. “And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”

One specific game that Hawley's team mentioned is Candy Crush, which includes such "microtransactions" as a $150 dollar "Luscious Bundle." Though the micro- part of the term doesn't exactly apply in this case, such a bundle is simply proof of how easy it could be for children to spend money on a game expressly designed to be addictive. Of course, the fight against microtransactions will inevitably involve games such as Overwatch, FIFA, or even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The bill hasn't yet been introduced to the Senate, but not everyone believes it has the power to bring about change. The Entertainment Software Association in particular isn't holding its breath: Speaking in a statement offered to Kotaku, the ESA reiterates that the video game industry is perfectly capable of self-regulation:

“Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.”

Be sure to keep it tuned right here to Shacknews for further updates.

Guides Editor

Kevin Tucker is a core component of Shacknews' powerful guide development team. For questions, concerns, tips, or to share constructive criticism, he can be reached on Twitter @dukeofgnar or through e-mail at kevin.tucker@shacknews.com.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 8, 2019 11:00 AM

    Kevin Tucker posted a new article, U.S. Senator reveals bill to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win

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      May 8, 2019 11:01 AM

      Wooo death to P2W. for our FREEDOMS!

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        May 8, 2019 11:22 AM

        US is willing to ban the pay to win system but not the pay to survive system US healthcare

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      May 8, 2019 11:27 AM

      rip zynga

    • reply
      May 8, 2019 11:27 AM

      Ban almost all of those cell phone games.

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      May 8, 2019 11:32 AM

      What's the tool to clearly delineate games made for minors? Sounds awfully hard to determine.

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        May 8, 2019 11:40 AM

        Cawley specifically says the standards outlined in the Children's Online Protection Privacy Act will be used:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Online_Privacy_Protection_Act

        Can't immediately find what those standards are.

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        May 8, 2019 11:41 AM

        FTC apparently regulates this and here's how they would call it:

        “Directed to children under 13”

        The FTC looks at a variety of factors to see if a site or service is directed to children under 13, including the subject matter of the site or service, visual and audio content, the use of animated characters or other child-oriented activities and incentives, the age of models, the presence of child celebrities or celebrities who appeal to kids, ads on the site or service that are directed to children, and other reliable evidence about the age of the actual or intended audience. If your website doesn’t target children as its primary audience, but is “directed to children under 13” based on those factors, you may choose to apply COPPA protections only to users under age 13. If that’s what you decide to do, you must not collect personal information from any users without first collecting age information. For users who say they are under age 13, don’t collect any personal information until you have obtained verifiable parental consent.

        https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule-six-step-compliance#step1