"Ridiculously Exploitive" Loot Boxes Must Change, Lawmaker Says
A state representative from Hawaii says, "We have to try to stand up for what is right."
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Chris Lee, the state representative from Hawaii who wants to take action against video games with "predatory" loot boxes, believes we are in the midst of a turning point when it comes to the video game industry and its business practices. The industry has to stop taking advantage of players with exploitive practices related to microtransactions, he told GameSpot in an interview. The time is right now due to the "generational transition" where lawmakers and people in power are becoming more attuned to video games.
"We have to try and stand up for what is right," Lee said. "I think it is inevitable that, whether it was spurred by Battlefront or some of the recent big-title games just being so ridiculously exploitative of the player base, there is enough of generational transition in politics and positions of authority around the country and the world, that you have people who understand what the industry is doing and are willing to stand up and take action and do something about it. Inevitably, the industry will have to change.
"Because more and more jurisdictions are going to start protecting their citizens from the kinds of exploitive and predatory practices that the industry has been employing lately. Inevitably, that means a better industry for everybody and better games for everybody."
One of the bills that Lee put forward seeks to limit the sale of video games with "gambling-like mechanisms" to people under the age of 21. If this bill became law, it would only affect games sold in Hawaii, but Lee believes this legislation could have a snowball effect and spread to other parts of the country that enact their own similar laws. In fact, lawmakers in Washington and Indiana have introduced bills with similar language.
The Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies on behalf of the video game industry in Washington, DC., believes that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. The ESA also believes that self-regulation is the best way forward, not the kind of government control and regulations that Lee and other lawmakers are suggesting. Lee told GameSpot that people from the ESA or working on their behalf are in Hawaii right now trying to prevent bills like his from getting passed.
"There are ESA lobbyists roaming the halls of the state capitol here as we speak who have been flown out to try and stop any sort of conversation about these issues from happening," he said.
We have followed up with the ESA in an attempt to get more details on its ambitions as it relates to Lee's bills and others with similar language in state legislatures across the US.
In other news, US Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) recently urged the ESRB (which also believes loot boxes do not constitute gambling) to consider the effect of loot boxes when putting together their ratings. We will report back with more details on the legislative action happening related to loot boxes and more as new information becomes available.
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