NHS (National Health Service) mental health director Claire Murdoch has called the companies whose games contain various forms of lootboxes to tackle the risk of gambling addiction among young players. Murdoch claims that this can be done, for example, by completely withdrawing titles with controversial mechanics, imposing limits on purchases in games or transparently informing players about the chance to get a given item.
According to Murdoch, the sale of lootboxes in games should be banned so that children do not risk becoming addicted to gambling. She also quotes various examples of young players, who without their parents' knowledge spent huge sums on this type of microtransactions.
“Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end."
The director of the NHS is aware of the scale of the problem and knows that she can't do much alone. That is why she asks the companies responsible for such games to take appropriate action, and others to raise awareness about lootboxes among younger players and their parents.
“Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing.”
And although this call will not solve the problem of lootboxes and gambling immediately, it is worth remembering that this is yet another time when this topic is being raised by individuals not related to the video game industry. Last May, a US Senator presented a draft for the regulation of microtransactions, and in August the US Trade Commission organised an open workshop on the subject. What's more, it seems that game developers have also noticed the problem of lootboxes. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have developed a new policy for the mechanic (to come into force in 2020), which has been agreed upon by EA, Ubisoft and Blizzard, among others. Lootboxes have already completely disappeared from Rocket League, and did not appear in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at all.