Republican U.S. Senator introduces federal bill to outlaw video game ‘loot boxes’

“Video games popular among kids would be prohibited from offering ‘loot boxes’ or randomized assortments of digital weapons, clothing and other items that can be purchased for a fee, under federal legislation to be introduced by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.),” Tony Romm and Craig Timberg report for The Washington Post. “Hawley’s Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act takes aim at a growing industry revenue stream that analysts say could be worth more than $50 billion — but one that increasingly has triggered worldwide scrutiny out of fear it fosters addictive behaviors and entices kids to gamble.”

“Hawley’s proposed bill, outlined Wednesday, covers games explicitly targeted to players younger than 18 as well as those for broader audiences where developers are aware that kids are making in-game purchases,” Romm and Timberg report. “Along with outlawing loot boxes, these video games also would be banned from offering ‘pay to win’ schemes, where players must spend money to access additional content or gain digital advantages over rival players.”

“Offering one ‘notorious example,’ Hawley’s office pointed to Candy Crush, a popular, free smartphone puzzle app that allows users to spend $149.99 on a bundle of goods that include virtual currency and other items that make the game easier to play,” Romm and Timberg report. “Purchases made within games — often called ‘micropayments’ or ‘in-app purchases’ — have come under scrutiny in recent years, in part, because children often use their parents’ credit cards or other payment methods to rack up charges that can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Parents have complained to the Federal Trade Commission that such charges often happen without their permission or end up being much larger than they expect.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, some sensible regulation is to be expected here as there are some egregious examples of games taking advantage of users’ ages to rack up In-App Purchases.

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