U.K. Commission Recommends Loot Box, Microtransaction Regulation

The loot box controversy continues, with new calls for legislation regulating what's perceived as gambling in online games.

The loot box controversy might have quieted down a bit in recent months, but that doesn't mean things aren't still happening behind the scenes. The Children's Commission for England recently submitted a report examining potential dangers and developmental problems associated with children and online gaming. Much to no one's surprise, loot boxes and microtransactions featured prominently in the report.

It first provides a case for how ingrained online gaming is in many children's lives, claiming it's "an extension of their offline life."

Because online gaming has become more than just a pastime, the Commission believes the same laws regulating offline behavior should extend to online games — including laws regulating compulsive purchases based on risk, chance, and reward (read: "gambling"). Simply disclosing rates, as some developers have opted to do, won't be enough the Commission says.

The report recommends a variety of actions, from limiting ways money can be spent in games and forbidding paid progression to using online games as digital teaching spaces that help children learn responsibility.

However, these are just recommendations from the Commission. While it's certainly influential, it doesn't mean there will be direct action or, as happened in the U.S., a bill proposed to actually enforce regulations Belgium

The full report can be found here.


Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.

Published Oct. 23rd 2019

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