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Should Loot Boxes in Video Games Be Illegal? This Senator Thinks So

Loot boxes are a contentious subject among gamers. They allow players the option to spend money for a shot at receiving mystery items that aren’t typically included for normal purchase within a game. This model can be frustratingly addictive for some people.

They can also be an annoyance for gamers peeved they can’t access all a game has to offer without forking over even more money. This means that a game that may cost sixty dollars to purchase initially can end up costing considerably more if a player is determined to get special equipment, including exclusive armor or weapons.

But Are They a Danger to Children?

One Senator has decided enough is enough. Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has recently introduced legislation aimed at outlawing micro-transactions, including loot boxes. He’s gone as far as to label the practice a danger to children.

The bill is entitled “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” and he hopes to make it illegal for games intended for minors to make use of pay-to-win transactions.

According to the bill, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) would need to monitor game developers and enforce punishments for those targeting underage players if they contain loot boxes. The bill deems such micro-transactions as “unfair trade practice”.

Venture Beat spoke with different analysts about the possibility of the bill becoming law. While some analysts support such legislation and think loot boxes are predatory, others suggest it’s ludicrous. In part, if the bill did pass it would make the United States the only country in the world to ban such micro-transactions.

That would make it more draconian than places such as China or South Korea, both known to levy pretty harsh restrictions on video games.

The issue of loot boxes is a difficult one. While many players have at least embraced the concept of micro-transactions by taking part in them, others maintain that the transactions are unfair and simply a way to bilk gamers of more money. Still, it’s hard to ignore that actual legislation to deem them illegal—let alone as endangering children—seems a little like overkill.  

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