U.S. Senator Josh Hawley introduces bill to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions

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Avatar image for uninspiredcup
#1 Edited by uninspiredcup (32813 posts) -

Better late than never.

Junior United States Senator (R-MO) Josh Hawley has introduced a bill to ban loot boxes and other pay-to-win practices in games. The "Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act" would ban pay-to-win initiatives in 'games played by minors'. The aforementioned label, Hawley states, includes games designed for children, but also games Hawley says, 'whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions.'

The Federal Trade Commission began investigating lootboxes and other microtransactions last fall following outcry over increasingly frequent utilization of pay-to-win practices. While some games have pulled back on their pay-to-win initiatives, popular games such as Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive continue to utilize lootboxes. The two aforementioned games, while not exclusively for children, are popular with both adults and minors alike.

Hawley, who has been critical of tech giants like Facebook and Google, seems to have had enough.

"Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits," Hawley explained.The Entertainment Software Association responded in a statement after the introduction of Hawley's bill:

"No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices."

The Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry lobbyist group, sent over a statement shortly after this bill was introduced: “Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.

Avatar image for lundy86_4
#2 Edited by lundy86_4 (52725 posts) -

I really can't find an issue with that. It can be annoying for adult gamers sure, but I dunno how you'd limit kids buying these and separating the adults. Unless we implement the UK's new porn gateway (lol.)

Avatar image for warmblur
#3 Edited by warmblur (2162 posts) -

Subpoena EA.

Avatar image for Ant_17
#4 Posted by Ant_17 (12161 posts) -

Bye Google store, it was fun!

Avatar image for madrocketeer
#5 Posted by madrocketeer (6234 posts) -

Inevitable. Obviously, I'd rather the industry regulate itself. Bringing in the government makes things messy.

Alas, base human nature: to get away with as many shit as possible, so long as they face no consequences for it. This is, unfortunately, why self-regulation will remain a utopian myth.

Avatar image for watercrack445
#6 Posted by watercrack445 (1447 posts) -

The whole mobile gaming industry. Lol

Avatar image for speedfreak48t5p
#7 Posted by speedfreak48t5p (13572 posts) -

I'm okay with this.

Avatar image for zaryia
#8 Posted by Zaryia (8222 posts) -

Nice the GOP doing something decent for a change.

Avatar image for briguyb13
#9 Edited by briguyb13 (2957 posts) -

About time.

Avatar image for Archangel3371
#10 Posted by Archangel3371 (27587 posts) -

I’m fine with this. It would have been better if the gaming industry could have managed this themselves but sadly greed always gets in the way of that.

Avatar image for getyeryayasout
#11 Posted by getyeryayasout (12265 posts) -

@madrocketeer: Nicely stated.

Avatar image for briguyb13
#12 Posted by briguyb13 (2957 posts) -

@getyeryayasout said:

@madrocketeer: Nicely stated.

Agreed... except for the "as many shit" part. :P

Avatar image for getyeryayasout
#13 Posted by getyeryayasout (12265 posts) -

@briguyb13 said:
@getyeryayasout said:

@madrocketeer: Nicely stated.

Agreed... except for the "as many shit" part. :P

I don't know, it seems like a fitting way to describe the games EA has been bringing out this gen. :P

Avatar image for FireEmblem_Man
#14 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (19582 posts) -
@madrocketeer said:

Inevitable. Obviously, I'd rather the industry regulate itself. Bringing in the government makes things messy.

Alas, base human nature: to get away with as many shit as possible, so long as they face no consequences for it. This is, unfortunately, why self-regulation will remain a utopian myth.

Pretty much. It should be up to parents to control purchases to prevent their child from using transactions or at least understand what they're playing.

Avatar image for nintendoboy16
#15 Posted by nintendoboy16 (36068 posts) -

No matter where you lean politically, pay-to-win microtransactions, and lootboxes suck. If it was an optional, less intrusive one, I don't mind. However, I'm mixed about getting the US government involved.

Avatar image for Xabiss
#16 Posted by Xabiss (2500 posts) -

No fucking reason the government should be involved in this shit. This is just embarrassing.

Avatar image for drlostrib
#17 Posted by DrLostRib (4775 posts) -

There seems like a 0% chance of the US government actually doing a good job of regulating this

Avatar image for madrocketeer
#18 Edited by madrocketeer (6234 posts) -
@FireEmblem_Man said:

Pretty much. It should be up to parents to control purchases to prevent their child from using transactions or at least understand what they're playing.

Yup, hence the point of bodies like the ESRB. Unfortunately, the ESRB doesn't want to do any more than just slap a generic "In-Game Purchases" label on the cover and call it the day. By their extremely broad definition, pretty much every game has "in-game purchases," and doesn't differentiate between story DLC and predatory loot boxes, thus diluting any effectiveness of the labelling. This, I do suspect, is an intentional obfuscation by the publishers, who bankroll the ESA, which is the ESRB's parent organization.

Also, my "basic human nature" line goes multiple ways. Too many people don't do the required diligence and effort to be informed about these things, and thus are inadvertently throwing chum into the corporate feeding frenzy, allowing them to get away with even more shit. They probably just feel they can get away forgoing such efforts with no consequences. It's like a self-feeding, spiralling cycle of apathy.

Of course, that's bullshit. Everything has consequences.

Avatar image for that_old_guy
#19 Edited by That_Old_Guy (1202 posts) -

@FireEmblem_Man: it is up to the parents. But do you know what kind of shit goes down when little Timmy asks for $20 for loot boxes and you say no.

See theres this thing called “help”. It’s when one party does something for another party with a positive outcome.

The less little Timmy is preyed upon by lootbox industries then the less outrage or depression or social anxiety will happen.

The rabbit hole goes deep. Don’t have those Halloween skins...you’re not as cool as the other kids in class...and it just spirals out of control.

Avatar image for FireEmblem_Man
#20 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (19582 posts) -

@that_old_guy: doesn't matter, it's the parents responsibility. Not the government

Avatar image for that_old_guy
#21 Edited by That_Old_Guy (1202 posts) -

@FireEmblem_Man: good boy. You understand the basics very well.

We’ll try another day to finish up the trick.

Avatar image for Shmiity
#22 Posted by Shmiity (6265 posts) -

Jesus christ, the last Republican legislation I liked was Romneycare in MA in 2006. Wow, I didnt think our hope of ending microtransactions was legislation but holy shit lets do this LOLOL

Avatar image for FireEmblem_Man
#23 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (19582 posts) -
@that_old_guy said:

@FireEmblem_Man: good boy. You understand the basics very well.

We’ll try another day to finish up the trick.

Da fuq are you talking about?

Avatar image for that_old_guy
#24 Posted by That_Old_Guy (1202 posts) -

@FireEmblem_Man: sigh...come on kid...I thought you had it. Maybe you’re not the one who will surprise me this semester.

Avatar image for XVision84
#25 Posted by XVision84 (15795 posts) -

Not optimistic. This is unlikely to be handled in a streamlined/optimal way because it'll be mandated on a macro level (from the looks of it). This means that companies might be able to work around it by implementing silly 'checks' (like an age input gateway) which a kid can easily work around. Plenty of bills go nowhere, so I'd rather see how the follow through goes.

Avatar image for Willy105
#26 Posted by Willy105 (24807 posts) -

@drlostrib: Lobbying will find a way to ruin it.

@Xabiss: Sadly, the only thing that has ever proven to stop a corporation from abusing the people has been the government putting it's foot down. When the government stops regulating (either by a new party in charge or lobbyists watering it down), that's when we see anti-consumer practices start to return.

Avatar image for lhughey
#27 Posted by lhughey (4635 posts) -

Pay to win is sucks, pay to skin doesn't. If you wanna waste your money on outfits, do it. I don't think pay to win or pay to skin should be illegal.

Avatar image for pyro1245
#28 Posted by pyro1245 (4926 posts) -

The industry could have just used a bit of restraint instead of shamelessly exploiting this stuff.

...but here we are and I never expected it to end up any other way.

Avatar image for ten_pints
#29 Edited by Ten_Pints (3758 posts) -

Good, gambling should never be encouraged. If they do put it in a game there should be relevant age classifications.

How many devs would be willing to make their games rated 18 or AO just to have loot boxes

Avatar image for blackhairedhero
#30 Posted by Blackhairedhero (3221 posts) -

Nice!

Avatar image for tenaka2
#31 Posted by tenaka2 (17169 posts) -

Console gamers really need this to become law.

Avatar image for X_CAPCOM_X
#32 Posted by X_CAPCOM_X (8530 posts) -

lmao at that gif.

Avatar image for DocSanchez
#33 Posted by DocSanchez (5219 posts) -

We didn't need these payments before, and no matter what bullshit excuses they come up with, we don't need them now. Greed is not good.

Avatar image for Solaryellow
#34 Posted by Solaryellow (4809 posts) -

@Xabiss said:

No fucking reason the government should be involved in this shit. This is just embarrassing.

None at all.

Avatar image for DocSanchez
#35 Posted by DocSanchez (5219 posts) -
@Solaryellow said:
@Xabiss said:

No fucking reason the government should be involved in this shit. This is just embarrassing.

None at all.

Consumer rights are precisely what they should be getting involved in. Are you on smack?

Avatar image for pyro1245
#36 Posted by pyro1245 (4926 posts) -
@DocSanchez said:
@Solaryellow said:
@Xabiss said:

No fucking reason the government should be involved in this shit. This is just embarrassing.

None at all.

Consumer rights are precisely what they should be getting involved in. Are you on smack?

I agree there has to be a balance between consumer protection and pure capitalism.

I know cyberpunk is a cool concept, but I'm not in a hurry to get to the corporate-oppressed dystopia that I enjoy so much in video games.

Avatar image for calvincfb
#37 Posted by Calvincfb (964 posts) -

Only people who benefits from MTX and p2w practices are against this.

Avatar image for Xabiss
#38 Posted by Xabiss (2500 posts) -
@Willy105 said:

@drlostrib: Lobbying will find a way to ruin it.

@Xabiss: Sadly, the only thing that has ever proven to stop a corporation from abusing the people has been the government putting it's foot down. When the government stops regulating (either by a new party in charge or lobbyists watering it down), that's when we see anti-consumer practices start to return.

Dont buy the game then, don't buy the loot boxes. The consumer should be the one responsible to control this not the government. If the consumer purchases said game and buys loot boxes how is that the fault of the publisher. The government should keep their nose out of this shit. If people really don't like this practice WTF is it so popular and making these companies so much money.

Government should be doing more important shit with their time. This is a waste!

Avatar image for goldenelementxl
#39 Posted by GoldenElementXL (3050 posts) -

If micro transactions were so bad, people wouldn’t buy them. The government does not need to step in here. I don’t understand why people are so eager to give up their freedom and liberty in cases like this. Are you all really this willing to let the government tell you what you can spend your money on?

Fools...

Avatar image for Yams1980
#40 Posted by Yams1980 (3434 posts) -

eh. This isn't enough. They need to build slave labour camps and put all the CEOs from these gaming companies in there for a few decades to make them work out their debts to society.

Avatar image for Xabiss
#41 Posted by Xabiss (2500 posts) -
@goldenelementxl said:

If micro transactions were so bad, people wouldn’t buy them. The government does not need to step in here. I don’t understand why people are so eager to give up their freedom and liberty in cases like this. Are you all really this willing to let the government tell you what you can spend your money on?

Fools...

It is funny that the government is trying to regulate something the customers made popular, but now complain about. ROFLMAO!

Avatar image for the_master_race
#42 Edited by the_master_race (4576 posts) -

@goldenelementxl said:

If micro transactions were so bad, people wouldn’t buy them. The government does not need to step in here. I don’t understand why people are so eager to give up their freedom and liberty in cases like this. Are you all really this willing to let the government tell you what you can spend your money on?

Fools...

people are stupid and government hates competition

Avatar image for cdragon_88
#43 Posted by cdragon_88 (1616 posts) -

Thanks game companies, y'all done fucked it up. Now the government is involved. Up next is more control of games dictated by government.

Avatar image for goldenelementxl
#44 Edited by GoldenElementXL (3050 posts) -

@cdragon_88: The vocal minority and gaming press is to blame here. None of these asshats in Washington have a clue what’s going on in the video game world. I’m sure their VCR and microwave are blinking 12:00 as we speak. There was just a little capitalism going on and people got jealous of all the success. The strange part is, usually it’s the Democrats that try to leach on to the success of the free market through regulation. I guess the “conservatives” aren’t too conservative after all.

There is nothing good about big government. People cheering this on are gonna wonder where it all went wrong 20 years from now when spicy food, violent movies and sexual contact are illegal.

Avatar image for davillain-
#45 Edited by DaVillain- (36069 posts) -

Few pointers;

  1. Don't link your credit card to your child's gaming account.
  2. Teach your children self control.
Avatar image for i_p_daily
#46 Posted by I_P_Daily (11434 posts) -

The last thing I want is the government getting involved in gaming, keep this shit in America.

Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
#47 Posted by R4gn4r0k (30727 posts) -

@davillain- said:

Few pointers;

  1. Don't link your credit card to your child's gaming account.
  2. Teach your children self control.

Yes and how about making them work for every penny they spend.

Avatar image for Jag85
#48 Posted by Jag85 (13361 posts) -

Interesting how a lot of gamers are now actually supporting government intervention against video games. A decade ago, many gamers would've been outraged at government intervention. But now that microtransactions have gotten out of control, many gamers are now welcoming government intervention.

Avatar image for goldenelementxl
#49 Edited by GoldenElementXL (3050 posts) -

@Jag85 said:

Interesting how a lot of gamers are now actually supporting government intervention against video games. A decade ago, many gamers would've been outraged at government intervention. But now that microtransactions have gotten out of control, many gamers are now welcoming government intervention.

Are they out of control? Just because consumers spend a shit ton of money on something doesn't mean the government needs to step in.

Gamers have no idea what they want, they just scream and yell anytime someone makes a ton of money. All this talk about evil corporations and it's gonna be gamers that ruin gaming...

Avatar image for davillain-
#50 Posted by DaVillain- (36069 posts) -

@R4gn4r0k said:
@davillain- said:

Few pointers;

  1. Don't link your credit card to your child's gaming account.
  2. Teach your children self control.

Yes and how about making them work for every penny they spend.

Oh believe me, if my Daughter wants something new to play on her Switch/PC, she better bring home those A grades cause if she's slacks, I'm taking her Switch until she improves!