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1469060cookie-checkFTC Planning Workshop To Discuss Loot Boxes August 7th
Industry News

FTC Planning Workshop To Discuss Loot Boxes August 7th

The Federal Trade Commission is finally making good on its promise to dive into the use of loot boxes in video games, with a workshop specifically established to address the virtual grab bags planned for Aug. 7.

This news comes to us from Variety, who noted the impending loot box session will include participants ranging from industry professionals and consumer advocates to academics, government officials and trade associations. While it’s possible this could eventually lead to some sort of regulation, additions to the ratings system or the like, it appears this particular event is planned in order to help various stakeholders better understand what loot boxes really are, how they are being implemented in games, and whether or not that can be seen as an issue, especially for children or individuals with addiction problems.

The ball got rolling in the U.S. last year when New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan called for the FTC to look into loot boxes and their uses in everything from more casual mobile games on up to full, AAA, $60 releases. FTC chairman Joseph Simons noted this past February that the organization would take Hassan’s request seriously and has now announced the August meeting to kick off the process.

While loot boxes have been in games for a number of years now, they’ve only become controversial enough to catch the attention of governing bodies more recently. As practices have become arguably more insidious, countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have gone as far as to take legal action against publishers in order to have them removed.

The big question in the U.S. is likely whether or not loot boxes should be considered gambling. If so, the fix may be as simple as requiring those loot boxes to more accurately and/or narrowly explain what content can be acquired and the actual statistics concerning your chances of getting, say, an ultra rare drop. Or, there’s always the chance folks might conclude they are a genuine cause for concern and need to be removed entirely or regulated like other forms of gambling.

This is likely to be a long and contentious process, but at least folks are finally willing to sit in a room and start talking things out.

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