One of the most talked about topics in the game’s industry is the egregious inclusion of pay-to-win microtransactions and loot boxes across various games. Some examples are more predatory than others, but the general overall feeling towards them seems to be negative. There are certain instances in which parents feel that children are being taken advantage of, due to the addictive nature of some of these games and their in-game purchase options. That’s why U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced a new bill, “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” that would ban pay-to-win microtransactions and loot boxes across many games.
According to a Kotaku report, the ban would be across “games played by minors,” which raises some questions. Is it a ban on all microtransactions in games below a Mature rating? Or any game that’s played by children? There are certainly a ton of Mature rated games that children play, so are those included, too? How will children be walled off from making purchases in Mature rated games? It seems like a bill with positive intentions, but quickly gets complicated.
Here’s what Hawley had to say about the bill:
When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.
In the wake of games like Star Wars Battlefront II, predatory microtransactions do seem to have died down slightly, at least in the console ecosystem. However, in mobile gaming, the issue still runs rampant, which is a driving force behind this bill. Hawley’s team is fully aware of mobile games like Candy Crush that feature extreme examples of pay-to-win microtransactions.
We’ll keep a close eye on this story as it develops.