The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to host a public workshop regarding the loot box problem. There has been some controversy surrounding loot boxes for a while now on account of them closely resembling gambling. And the FTC is actually planning on taking action.
FTC chairman Joseph Simons has written a letter to Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in which he revealed the workshop. This was a response to Senator Hassan’s letter in which she expressed her concern regarding the loot box problem.
Chairman Simons wrote: "A workshop could provide a forum for stakeholders representing wide-ranging perspectives, including consumer advocacy organizations, parent groups, and industry members. It also could help elicit information to guide subsequent consumer outreach, which could include a consumer alert."
Senator Hassan has stated that the workshop is "a step in the right direction," but emphasized that the FTC should keep working with various stakeholders "to ensure that meaningful improvements are made to increase transparency and consumer protections."
Senator Hassan also wrote a letter to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) last year, asking them to look into the practice of marketing loot boxes to minors and to formalize the best possible practices for microtransactions. However, because of the pressure from other advocacy groups, the ESRB announced it would label games with in-game purchases.
This workshop could mean that the controversy regarding loot boxes and other microtransactions is not over yet. But after the launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2, the public got really suspicious about loot boxes and how much they resemble gambling, especially in games targeted towards younger audiences. However, the FTC has declined to comment on whether it is conducting any formal investigation.