Senator Josh Hawley, the Republican representative of Missouri, recently announced that he plans on introducing legislation that will effectively outlaw certain video game features such as “loot boxes” and “pay to win” monetization practices.
He argues that these systems are deliberately marketed to minors and that they are purposefully built to mimic gambling mechanics in order to hook unsuspecting children into spending large amounts of money on these gaming services.
His bill, The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, is set to ban randomized or partially randomized microtransactions in free or paid games. He cited the famous game “Candy Crush” as an example of this practice that allows players to spend almost $150 on an in-game purchase bundle that gives players an immediate and unfair advantage.
The legal – and ethical – status of loot boxes has been an issue for some time now, with Belgium even declares loot boxes a form of gambling and thus illegal under the laws of that nation.
But, for now, loot boxes and P2W mechanics are still legal in the majority of countries around the world. They are highly profitable for the gaming industry, which is trying to distance itself from allegations that they are a type of gambling.