A “public workshop” on loot boxes planned in the USA

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the USA is planning to hold a public workshop in loot boxes later this year in the country. This is following the voices in the public, including that of US senator Maggie Hassan, against the impact of loot boxes in videogames.

FTC chairman Joseph Simons has sent a letter to Maggie Hassan mentioning its plans for a “public workshop on loot boxes” later this year.

Simons said: “We are currently planning a public workshop on loot boxes for later this year as one non-law enforcement option. A workshop could provide a forum for stakeholders representing wide-ranging perspectives, including consumer advocacy organisations, parent groups, and industry members,” Simons wrote. “It also could help elicit information to guide subsequent consumer outreach, which could include a consumer alert.”

Simons noted that the FTC has previously issued reports on the marketing of violent entertainment media to children, and said that as the videogame industry has evolved, “we have remained vigilant for potential consumer protection issues, and we have continued outreach efforts to self-regulatory bodies such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board.”

Pressure from government agencies in countries including Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands have already led to significant changes to loot boxes, in some cases increased transparency, and in others their outright removal. But the debate persists: Regulatory bodies have so far been reluctant to define loot boxes as a form of gambling, and publishers remain committed to them.

Hassan said the proposed workshop is “a step in the right direction,” and encouraged the FTC to continue its efforts “to increase transparency and consumer protections around loot boxes.”