Screenshots appear to show that Activision plans on introducing a loot box mechanic in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as the UK Government recommends taking action against loot boxes.
Most every gamer will tell you that the bane of their existence is loot boxes. This predatory mechanic has been present for years, in nearly every genre of game.
Yesterday, YouTuber LegacyKillaHD showed a screenshot indicating Activision is planning to incorporate a loot box system into their upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game.
LMAO Looks like #ModernWarfare Beta players already have uncovered the planned loot box system which will come likely a few weeks after release…
Once the reviews are written & millions of copies are sold.
Typical Pathetic Activision. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/CJlvq30hOj
— Michael (@LegacyKillaHD) September 12, 2019
As the screen shot and word spread about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare featuring loot boxes, the United Kingdom’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) committee released a paper recommending the government crackdown on loot boxes. (Related: Loot Boxes and FIFA 19 Character Packs Do Not Constitute Gambling According to UK Gambling Commission)
The DCMS published their investigation and subsequent findings on in-game gambling and other addictive mechanics.
“We recommend that loot boxes that contain the element of chance should not be
sold to children playing games, and instead in-game credits should be earned through
rewards won through playing the games. In the absence of research which proves that
no harm is being done by exposing children to gambling through the purchasing of
loot boxes then we believe the precautionary principle should apply and they are not
permitted in games played by children until the evidence proves otherwise.”
Not only do they advocate loot boxes not be exposed to children, but they recommend that games featuring loot boxes be labeled ‘gambling.’
“We recommend that working through the PEGI Council and all other
relevant channels, the UK Government advises PEGI to apply the existing ‘gambling’
content labelling, and corresponding age limits, to games containing loot boxes that can
be purchased for real-world money and do not reveal their contents before purchase.”
The report goes on to say the UK Government should produce its own paper explaining why loot boxes should not be regulated under the Gambling Act, assuming the government does not plan on regulating lootboxes in games. They do recommend that the government create legislation to designate loot boxes as a game of chance. (Related: EA Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Refers to Loot Boxes as “Surprise Mechanics”, Claims Mechanic is “Quite Ethical and Quite Fun”)
“We consider loot boxes that can be bought with real-world money and do not
reveal their contents in advance to be games of chance played for money’s worth. The
Government should bring forward regulations under section 6 of the Gambling Act 2005
in the next parliamentary session to specify that loot boxes are a game of chance. If it
determines not to regulate loot boxes under the Act at this time, the Government should
produce a paper clearly stating the reasons why it does not consider loot boxes paid for
with real-world currency to be a game of chance played for money’s worth.”
It also broadly calls out the games industry at large, and recommends it takes a proactive role in determining the effects of loot boxes through independent research, and protecting vulnerable parties until enough evidence has been gathered.
LegacyKillaHD discusses the new developments in an insightful video.
To date, Belgium and the Netherlands both have deemed loot boxes to be in violation of their gambling laws, and violations are subject to hefty fines or imprisonment.
The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia do not currently have laws against loot boxes in games. Given these new recommendations for the UK that could change in the future. This could expedite changes in law and have a ripple effect.
If the UK rethinks its stance on loot boxes, the United States could soon follow and the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act (PCAG) would move at lightspeed to get passed into law.
PCAG is an anti-lootbox bill that was introduced in the U.S. by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), and subsequently endorsed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA). (Related: US Senator Josh Hawley Introduces Anti-Loot Box, Anti-Microtransaction Bill to US Senate)
Under the act, video games marketed to children would be prohibited from implementing any pay-to-win mechanisms. All games would be forbidden from selling loot boxes to children. A publisher or developer would face fines for including these features in games, or allowing children under 18 to use them.
On a personal note, I hope loot box mechanics go the way of the dinosaur soon. Most gamers don’t mind an in-game shop where they can purchase things of their choice, but they’re getting what they pay for. With loot boxes, it is nothing but the illusion of having a chance to get what you want. Time to shatter that illusion once and for all, and get rid of this predatory mechanic.
What do you think? Is it time for lootboxes to go? Give your thoughts below.