The UK government has warned the video game industry that it needs to crack down on how it treats loot boxes, or it’ll be met with legislation tightening up the issue.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has found a link between problem gambling and loot boxes in games, and it has called for game companies to step and “improve protections” for children in a new press release (via GamesIndustry.biz).
These findings follow a call for evidence on the impact of loot boxes by the UK government back in 2020, with this release now calling for the in-game purchases to be made unavailable to children unless approved by a parent or guardian. More specifically, Xbox’s parental controls were mentioned, with the government wanting to build on protections like this, otherwise legislation will be considered.
“We want to stop children going on spending sprees online without parental consent, spurred on by in-game purchases like loot-boxes,” said culture secretary Nadine Dorries.
“Games companies and platforms need to do more to ensure that controls and age-restrictions are applied so that players are protected from the risk of gambling harms. Children should be free to enjoy gaming safely, whilst giving parents and guardians the peace of mind they need.”
To combat the problem of loot boxes, DCMS is putting together a “working group” that’ll bring together game developers and publishers, regulatory bodies and platforms to create measures to protect players.
The previous call for evidence found a need for more research, so the UK government says it will launch the Video Games Research Framework in response.
“As a responsible industry, we have committed to exploring additional ways to support players and parents to build on our existing work developing and raising awareness of parental controls,” said Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist OBE.
“We look forward to engaging closely with the Government and other organisations in the working group and on the Video Games Research Framework.”