Republican US Senator Josh Hawley yesterday (May 23rd, 2019) released the full text of his bill targeting loot boxes in video games.
It’s pretty simple. Video game companies shouldn’t put casinos targeted at kids in their games. Proud of this bipartisan effort https://t.co/32AgK32nUN
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 23, 2019
There were two co-sponsors of the bill and it was formally dubbed as the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act. Furthermore, Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut along with Ed Markey of Massachusetts sponsored the bill.
The bill has a pretty harsh stance on loot boxes looking to outright ban them for games who appeal to people under the age of 18. The full wording from the bill reads that it would be illegal for a game publisher to release a “minor-oriented” game that features loot boxes or pay-to-win microtransactions.
How The Bill Defines Pay To Win
The bill is actually incredibly well written and when you delve into how certain aspects are defined it’s actually incredibly spot on. Pay To Win was defined in the bill as the following “a pay-to-win mechanic is one that eases a user’s progression through content otherwise available within the game without the purchase of such transaction,” as well as one that “assists a user in accomplishing an achievement within the game that can otherwise be accomplished without the purchase of such transaction.”
It is also defined as something that “assists a user in receiving an award associated with the game that is otherwise available in association with the game without the purchase of such transaction.” And finally, the bill states that pay-to-win also means a purchase that “permits a user to continue to access content of the game that had previously been accessible to the user but has been made inaccessible after the expiration of a timer or a number of gameplay attempts.”
Furthermore, the bill has exclusions for the following types of content: difficult modes, cosmetic items that do not affect gameplay, and add-on content like DLC packs and expansions.
These exclusions are carefully crafted and yet broad enough to cover exactly what gamers want, games that sell cosmetic items, and additional content through an in-game store and not game-winning items.
How The Bill Defines Loot Boxes
Loot boxes are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to gamers. On the surface, they are great, because you can, in theory, get a skin or cosmetic item you really want without needing to spend a dumb amount for them. Let’s take Fornite or League Of Legends for example. A decent skin in either one of these games can cost upwards of $20.
However, a loot box can cost you $1 and give you multiple cosmetic items. The downside though is these boxes tend to be filled with junk or even worse duplicates of an item you already possess. This is where the problem kicks in loot boxes are by their nature rigged, you’re basically gambling and many games where you’re unable to outright purchase a cosmetic item and instead need to go through a loot box system have taken advantage of this situation.
Therefore, the bill has defined a loot box like the following: a “randomized or partly randomized” item that unlocks a feature of the product or adds to or enhances the entertainment value of the product without disclosing what the actual content is until after the purchase of the loot box.
What are your thoughts on the idea of loot boxes being effectively banned in the United States? Do you prefer to purchase cosmetics directly or do you like the game of chance of loot boxes?
Let me know in the comments down below!