Game News

UK MP Margot James defends loot boxes, calls for more research

Published: 14:16, 04 July 2019
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 loot crate
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 - loot Crait

Even though the UK seemed to be off to a strong start in the anti-loot box and game addiction debate, the UK Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP now changed the tune and said we need more research done.

So far, the government's enquiry has questioned a number of video game developers in regards to the loot box mechanics, most notably Epic Games and EA, where the latter coined the already legendary feat of verbal acrobatics - surprise mechanics. 

Unfortunately, as determined as the UK looked to fight loot boxes on the beaches and whatnot, we now seem to be back to square one.

Appearing before the Commons committee at UK Parliament, James said that there needs to be more research before any regulations are passed, so as to ensure the proper assessment.

James was reminded that Belgium and Netherlands have already passed the regulations in question, and asked whether relevant regulatory bodies in the UK need time to catch up with them.

"The fact that other European countries have taken action I think is much more to do with them taking their offline gambling laws online, and our gambling laws are different", she said, insisting the question contained too many assumptions.

Moreover, she said that gambling laws in Belgium and Netherlands are different from those in the UK, effectively disqualifying them from being considered precedents, but we'll be hearing more on this at a later date.

"I would also contest the assumption that loot boxes are gambling. I don't think the evidence I've read from your committee's hearings would support that assumption either. Loot boxes are a means of people purchasing items, skins, to enhance their gaming experience, not through an expectation of an additional financial reward", she said.

AltChar Loot box from Overwatch on the Belgian flag Belgium, Loot Box

James argued that loot boxes can't be traded offline for actual currency, which makes the gambling allegations suspect.

Nevertheless, James said that if sufficient proof was found, the sheer number of people involved would make it a serious problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later.


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