Just recently, US Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act”, a bill that aims to remove loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions and ban them from video games. But the real question is how this bill will impact gaming in general and what will happen to existing games?
Hawley argues that social media and the “pay to win” trend set by various modern games have a negative effect on children who are playing said games. In a press release sent by Hailey’s office, he said,
“Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits.” Hawley added, “No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices… Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”
Shortly after US Senator Hawley introduced the bill to ban loot boxes, The Entertainment Software Association quickly responded by saying that various European countries have already determined that loot boxes and microtransactions are not the same as gambling, meaning there is no reason to ban them.
The Entertainment Software Association’s acting president and CEO Stanley Pierre- Louis sent over a statement to The Verge shortly after this bill was introduced and said,
“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.”
According to its website, The Entertainment Software Association is an organization that dedicates itself to “serving the business and public affairs needs of companies that publish computer and video games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet.”
What Loot Box and Microtransaction Ban Could Mean for Games:
Of course, The United States Congress has been making cases against social media companies for quite a while now. Earlier this year, the same Senator Josh Hawley along with Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), lead an investigation into Facebook.
In an interview with Verge in March, Hawley called Facebook “an extremely creepy company.” He went on further to say “I’m not a big fan [of Facebook].” Hawley, Markey, Blumenthal proposed a major update into Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that would allow parents to make use of an “Eraser Button” that would remove all of a child’s data from the related service.
Furthermore, The Federal Trade Commission of The United States is going to hold a public workshop on August 7, 2019, to “examine consumer protection issues related to videogame “loot boxes”—in-game rewards players can buy while playing a video game.”
If Hawley’s bill is successfully passed and approved, The Federal Trade Commission will enforce it and gaming companies that implement loot boxes and microtransactions would technically be liable for lawsuits from any state in the USA.
Game companies and their products will be sued for damages thanks to Hawley’s “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act”. Just quite recently, NetherRealm Studios received a ton of backlash for making tower challenges borderline on pay-to-win in Mortal Kombat 11.
Just last month, EA and Respawn Entertainment announced that their new game “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” will not have microtransactions. It is likely that this bill will force other game developers to change their existing games, removing all microtransactional materials from them.
It is also likely that future games, just like Fallen Order, won’t have microtransactions.
It is yet to be seen just how Hawley’s bill will impact gaming. What do you think? Will it change the gaming landscape forever? Will microtransactions and loot boxes be banned from games forever? Let us know in the comments.