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Anti-loot box initiative gets bipartisan support in U.S. Senate

Published: 20:51, 24 May 2019
Ubisoft
Picture of a loot box in The Division 2
The Division 2 - Loot box

Even though U.S. lawmakers were one of the first to raise concerns over loot boxes and the impact they may have on children, the concerns remained declarative until recently, when Republican Senator Josh Hawley resurrected the initiative.

Hawley proposed the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, whereby developers of games would be prohibited from peddling loot boxes and/or pay-to-win mechanics to children.

He also stressed that the gambling industry is regulated so as to prevent exploitation of children, and that the gaming industry should be held to the same standards.

At the time, Hawley expressed hope that the bill will get bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and his wish has come through, as Democrat Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal jumped aboard.

Echoing Hawley's sentiment, Blumenthal said, "Congress must send a clear warning to app developers and tech companies: Children are not cash cows to exploit for profit".

Markey warned that online entertainment has become a dangerous playground for children. "Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds", he added.

Hawley said that the bill was drafted after numerous discussions with concerned parents, gamers and even representatives of the gaming industry, who he claims weren't exactly thrilled with the initiative.

Nevertheless, Hawley insists that these reactions are a sign they're getting somewhere, as corporate lobbyists are well aware that what they're doing would never stand up to public scrutiny.

Asked whether they thought about how this may affect some companies and consequently the gaming industry as a whole, he replied, "These are very resourceful people, and I'm sure they can design games that don't rely on gambling directed at children in the center of the game."

Blizzard picture showing christmas gift Overwatch Winter Loot Box

Now, we've made it no secret that we despise loot boxes, but the lack of concern for the wider implications of a sudden introduction of such a bill is a bit scary.

None of the Senators in question admittedly play games and their experiences with loot boxes come from concerned parents, so we really hope that this government intervention doesn't come back to haunt us all.

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