As a potential ban on loot boxes hangs over the UK, experts have weighed in on exactly how difficult putting that process into practice will be.
Gone are the days when a gamer would buy a video game and the transaction between them and the developer was over and done with. Nowadays, purchasing a copy of a game is just the beginning. There will be DLC, additional extras, and perhaps the most controversial money grab of all, loot boxes.
Loot boxes have already been ruled to be a form of gambling in Belgium, and now the UK government is hard at work on deciding whether it should follow suit. Since gambling is legal in the UK, it's not that loot boxes might be a form of gambling, its the ease of access children have to them. Therein lies the difficulty when it comes to regulating the use of loot boxes, as laid out by experts at Gamesindustry.biz.
The simple solution is asking gamers for age verification when playing a game - except that isn't simple at all. Children will pay little attention to age warnings, and what's to stop them from lying about their age when asked about it? With mounting pressure to own as many Fortnite skins as possible so they're not called "default" by their friends, chances are a pop-up asking how old they are isn't going to deter them.
The British government is weighing up a lot of options, not just age verification. Loot boxes falling under gambling laws would mean developers would have to include a warning on video games by law. Whether it is a big or pivotal part of the game or not, seeing that warning could deter a parent from buying the game for their child entirely.
One of the other options being investigated by experts in the UK is a spending cap. Gamers are spending more than $900 million per year on loot boxes. The trouble is, a spending cap would also require some sort of age verification. Unless the cap is applied to any and all gamers which would not go down well with those over the age of 18.
There are so many obstacles to overcome in this situation that it may be something that never comes to fruition.