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News video games 11 April 2019, 15:02

author: Bart Swiatek

FTC Will Investigate Loot Boxes

This August, the Federal Trade Commission will organize an open workshop on loot boxes and related issues, including their possible negative influence on the behavior of young gamers.

FTC Will Investigate Loot Boxes - picture #1
The FTC will organize a workshop on loot boxes. Source:

This year, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take a closer look at the so-called loot boxes, which are sets of random items that can be bought for real money in some games. This body will deal with this topic on August 7 in an open workshop called Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes.

The workshop, “Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes,” will bring together a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, consumer advocates, trade associations, academics, and government officials to discuss concerns regarding the marketing and use of loot boxes and other in-game purchases, and the potential behavioral impact of these virtual rewards on young consumers, reads the press release.

FTC Will Investigate Loot Boxes - picture #2
Loot boxes under scrutiny.

The experts will take care of all kinds of loot boxes, including those in which only cosmetic items are sold. The list of topics will include issues such as the origin of loot boxes, their role in the gameplay and the market, as well as their potential impact on the behavior of customers, including underage gamers. There will also be a discussion on the subject of in-game commercial transactions, including marketing and consumer awareness.

It should be noted that the aforementioned event will not be the beginning of a formal investigation - the FTC is currently gathering information and encouraging feedback. Only the outcome of the workshop will determine what the next steps of the committee will be (if any). However, August 7 may turn out to be an important date for many game developers and publishers - if the workshops do not go as they intended, it cannot be ruled out that legal regulations will be implemented which will make it difficult or impossible to include loot boxes. Of course, it may well be that the planned event will not bring any changes, as was the case in e.g. the United Kingdom.

  1. FTC - official website
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