U.S. Republican Senator Josh Hawley has reportedly announced a bill that would ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in ‘games played by minors’ – a broad label that will include both video and mobile games designed for people under 18, and games “whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions”.
The bill, called ‘The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act’, will be introduced to the U.S. Senate soon. Materials related to the bill cite Activision’s game “Candy Crush,” and its infamous $214 Luscious Bundle, as an egregious example of pay-to-win microtransactions.
Hawley says: “When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetise 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 bill will also likely apply to “Fortnite” and a host of other online games that feature loot boxes and other ways in which players can spend money on real benefits.
The introduction of such a bill follows on from promises made last Fall by the Federal Trade Commission to investigate loot boxes at the request of Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan. The heavy usage of predatory microtransactions such as in “Middle-earth: Shadow of War” and “Star Wars Battlefront 2” were cited as examples.