Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently proposed a new bill called “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” which would essentially put a stop to loot boxes and microtransactions of the pay-to-win variety. Should such a bill pass, a myriad number of games would be affected, particularly those targeted towards or commonly known to be played by minors. In the hours following the bill’s introduction, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the gaming industry’s trade association, issued a statement.
The ESA’s full statement on the matter reads as follows:
Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.
It seems the ESA will, at least, be willing to work closely with Senator Hawley on the subject of microtransactions. What this entails exactly remains to be seen. However, given the current discourse surrounding the topic, the organization may have no other choice. This especially holds true considering the decision of countries like Belgium, which have already decided that microtransactions, loot boxes, and the like are similar to gambling and worthy of strict regulation. How this will eventually play out in America is currently impossible to discern.
At the very least, though, Senator Hawley’s proposed bill has sparked new discussion, forcing the gaming industry to directly address something it has long attempted to downplay or otherwise ignore. Hopefully, more on this will be known soon, especially since some of the bill’s phrasing needs ironing out. For instance, if it targets “games played by minors,” what games can get away scot-free? At present, it’s hard to say.
[Source: Entertainment Software Association via Kotaku]