Australia Set to Lay the Clamps On Lootboxes
The debacle of lootboxes in video games has risen its head in Australia again after an Australian House of Representatives called on the government to look at placing strict restrictions in place for players under the age of 18.
The house has called for Australia to take into regard that purchasing lootboxes can be likened to gambling and is doing nothing but grooming young Australians for gambling in the future.
What Are Lootboxes?
Otherwise known as Gashas, lootboxes are rewards given to video game players in certain games at a price. Players pay money for the rewards or purchase/win virtual currency in-game to spend on the lootbox.
The catch is that you never know what you are getting inside the box. While the rewards generally have to do with modifications to game levels, characters, and equipment, the contents are randomly distributed to stay a mystery.
Where’s the Issue?
The representatives connect lootboxes to a form of gambling in the fact that funds are transferred (whether real or virtual) for random unknown outcomes. The committee fears that leaving this sort of activity unchecked may ascribe the nation to the blatant tolerance of underage gambling.
Australian conservatives are not the only punters of these types of age restrictions either. Countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have already ordered EA Games to stop using Gashas in their games.
Of course, game makers might be more accommodating of age restrictions rather than blanket bans, as these types of micro-transactions are a way that developers churn revenues. Leading games around the world, like Fortnite (by Epic Games) to rely purely on micro-transactions to get by, though they do not offer rewards in the form of lootboxes.
Just the Beginning
Lootboxes are only the tip of the iceberg in Oz. Representatives have further called for the government to look closer at under-age verification protocols on gambling in mainstream gambling too. The United Kingdom was referenced as a model which needed to be followed, due to their strict protocols on responsible gambling in this regard.
Already stats show that 40% of all children in Australia have gambled in one way or another. This is surely a failing that needs addressing, and it seems it won’t be long before Australia tightens the screws in this regard.
Are Lootboxes Gambling?
In the strictest sense, gambling is betting money or goods on uncertain outcomes. Wagers are paid with the risk of receiving no reward in return. With lootboxes, a reward is always guaranteed for your money, so it’s not really a bet then, is it?
Yes, lootboxes do not stipulate the prize and hold a sense of mystery and intrigue in what you receive, but then shall they ban traditional lucky packets for kids or Christmas crackers, where you never know what reward up for grabs is?
Nevertheless, protecting kids from what could be dangerous is our duty as a community, but let’s make sure that the risks are real and that we are not stamping out decent, good fun.
Fortunately, the government is best suited to make this call, as they are able to undertake the necessary investigations needed to make a responsible decision.