The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is going to be put out a call for evidence as it continues to investigate whether loot boxes in games should be considered gambling. Back in September, the DCMS recommended that loot boxes get classed as gambling but no legislation as been passed to incorporate those recommendations. It seems that the DCMS is bolstering the case by seeking more evidence though it is not yet clear who may submit evidence or what kind of evidence the department would require.
Last summer, representatives from gaming companies including EA were called in front of the committee to give their sides. It is where the phrase “surprise mechanics” was born in an attempt to claim that loot boxes were not like gambling in any way. The DCMS was less than impressed by the responses it received and wrote:
“We were struck by how difficult it was to get full and clear answers from some of the games and social media companies we spoke to and were disappointed by the manner in which some representatives engaged with the inquiry. We felt that some representatives demonstrated a lack of honesty and transparency in acknowledging what data is collected, how it is used and the psychological underpinning of how products are designed, and this made us question what these companies have to hide. It is unacceptable that companies with millions of users, many of them children, should be so ill-equipped to discuss the potential impacts of their products.”
If legislation is passed to state that loot boxes do constitute as gambling they would fall under the purview of the Gambling Commission. In the UK, children are not allowed to gamble so any games with loot box elements would have to be changed to accommodate a younger audience or not be allowed to be sold to children when they are playing games. The DCMS recommended that loot boxes be added to the Gambling Act of 2005, and stated the government should confirm in writing why it chooses not to follow the recommendation if it does not add loot boxes to the Act. However, games with loot boxes do now have an in game purchases notice as the part of the PEGI rating.
Source: The Guardian