Yesterday, Republican senator Josh Hawley (MO) put forward a bill that proposes to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win features in games, especially those played by under 18s.
The bill is called The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act and is set to be introduced to the US Senate sometime in the near future. It covers games that are purposely targeted to younger players, especially those where developers are aware that children are most likely making in-game purchases.
The bill also proposes to ban pay-to-win features and schemes. Pay-to-win features include things such as microtransactions which allow players to gain a certain edge or advantages over other players.
Hawley cited Candy Crush as an example of pay-to-win mechanics and microtransactions, using the example of its in-game ‘Luscious Bundle’ loot box, which is worth $149.99. The Luscious Bundle provides players with items that are designed to make Candy Crush easier to beat.
Hawley had the following to say in a press release:
“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”
The Entertainment Software Association, or ESA, released a statement saying that several other countries including Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Australia, and the UK had already ‘determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling’.
This article has been edited to correctly present senator Hawley’s party and affiliation. Thank you to commenter deadonthefloor for correcting me.