FTC Loot Box Summit Agenda Outlines Three Key Areas
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The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set a date and an agenda for its upcoming public workshop on video game loot boxes. The event, which will take place on August 7 in Washington DC, is titled "Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes." A schedule posted on the FTC site outlines three key panels to take place throughout the day.
The first panel to take place at 10:15 AM ET promises to explore the role of loot boxes and "the impact of these monetization models on end users." It will include panelists from the National Consumers League, Common Sense Media, International Game Developers Association, and Entertainment Software Association.
The second panel, to take place at 1:15 PM ET after a short break for lunch, will take a look at the "social, psychological, and economic motivations" behind loot boxes. It will feature university professors in the fields of psychology, industrial engineering, marketing, and computer science.
The final afternoon session, set for 2:45 PM ET, is centered on how to make sure concerns around loot boxes are addressed. It will review current initiatives for disclosing microtransactions, as well as "other mechanisms that may enhance consumer protection." That panel will include representatives of Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, the ESA, and the National Council on Problem Gambling. Each of the three panels will be moderated by an FTC representative.
All of this comes amid a backdrop of criticism of microtransactions, including comparisons to gambling and concerns about them being targeted towards children. The FTC hasn't formally made any moves to restrict the practice, but proposed the workshop as a "non-law enforcement option" that could "help elicit information to guide subsequent consumer outreach." U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has introduced a bill that would ban the practice.
Various countries have responded in their own ways to loot boxes, including some like France and New Zealand that have determined that the practice does not constitute gambling. Still, some countries have already banned the practice, leading games like Rocket League to remove those purchases in select countries.
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