Purchasable in-game rewards might be harder for gaming companies to push if state lawmakers in Hawaii have their way, according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
There are two sets of bills making their way through the Hawaiian House and Senate that might be the beginning of wrangling in the loot box debate.
The first set of bills, House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024, would prohibit the sale of any game featuring a system wherein players can purchase a randomized reward using real money to anyone younger than 21 years old. The second set, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would require videogame publishers to prominently label games containing such randomized purchase systems, as well as to disclose the probability rates of receiving each loot box reward.
The introduction of these bills echoes the sense of greed that gamers are feeling as more and more games are pushing them to purchase in-game content with real-life money in a “pay to win” tactic. This move has been rubbing quite a few players the wrong way, including Hawaii state Rep. Chris Lee, who stated, “I’ve watched firsthand the evolution of the industry from one that seeks to create new things to one that’s begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit.” Lee, an avid player, spearheaded the bills.
Recently, the idea of “play to win” has been a contentious point between players and the gaming industry, as more releases feature loot boxes. The release of Star Wars: Battlefront II proved to be controversial before the title even hit stores, as the game not only featured loot boxes, but players had to pay for characters like Darth Vader in order to play as them.
After online criticism, Electronic Arts removed all in-game transactions from Battlefront initially, but mentioned last month that some in-game transactions would be re-introduced later in the year.
While “loot boxes” or in-game transactions remain a point of contention for players and game companies alike, companies are raking in the dough, as Blizzard made $4 billion in sales from in-game transactions in 2017.
Hopefully, in the future players and gaming companies can find some common ground, but that seems unlikely right now, as Rep. Lee stated, “It’s an industry that can reach into everyone’s pockets and phones and consoles and PCs, but there’s no authority to force them to disclose their practices.”
Check out more of our thoughts on loot boxes here and here.