In pursuit of its goal to make the UK the "safest place to be online in the world", the UK Government has recently opened a call for evidence as part of its consultation on the effect of loot boxes in video games.
"Loot boxes" are a feature in online video games which players can access using either in-game or real-world currency. Players open these loot boxes and receive randomised in-game items of differing rarities. These items are usually cosmetic, meaning they change the appearance of the player's in-game avatar but otherwise don't impact the gameplay. Loot boxes are unique because of their chance mechanism, players do not know what their loot box contains until they open it.
The call for evidence seeks to gather information on (1) the experience of video game players, (2) the impact of loot boxes, (3) the scale of the loot box (and other in-game purchases) market in the UK, and (4) the effectiveness of current voluntary and statutory protections such as controls to manage spending and access, video game labels, and consumer regulations.
The call for evidence is targeted at two demographics:
- Video game players and adults responsible for children and young people who play video games; and
- Video game businesses, and researchers and organisations interested in video games and loot boxes.
The consultation closes at 11:59 pm on 22 November 2020.
Video games have become an important part of the economic and social fabric of the UK, they undoubtedly also present new responsibilities for everyone including the government to ensure that players - particularly children and young people - are not exposed to harm