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IGDA urges devs to self-regulate loot boxes -- while they still can

IGDA urges devs to self-regulate loot boxes -- while they still can

November 29, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

The International Game Developers Association has put forth a call to action regarding how loot boxes are used, a few days after the Federal Trade Commission agreed to launch an investigation into monetization schemes in video games to see whether or not they take advantage of young players.

The statement provided comes shortly after several countries have started cracking down on loot box monetization systems, including Belgiumthe Netherlands, and South Korea.

IGDA executive director Jen MacLean mentions this, writing how it "should be a clear wakeup call to the game development industry that we must address how we use loot boxes, especially when they’re in games played by children."

"Random loot drops are a well-established game mechanic, and a way to vary rewards and keep players interested and engaged," the post continues. "But when a player makes a real-money purchase of an unknown item-a loot box-we run the risk of triggering gambling laws." 

This is a far cry from the statement given by the Entertainment Software Association, which recently dismissed the idea that loot boxes constitute gambling, as they don't have real-world value and players are always rewarded with some form of prize. 

To protect younger players from the potentially exploitative monetization mechanic, the IGDA urges the game dev community to establish "clear, easy-to-understand game ratings and content descriptions so that consumers, and especially parents, understand what’s in the games they or their children play."

This includes:

  • Affirm an industry commitment to not market loot boxes to children.

  • Clearly disclose the odds of different rewards when purchasing loot boxes.

  • Launch a coordinated education campaign that boosts awareness of the parental controls that are available to appropriately limit how players engage with games.

MacLean urges game devs to take action and self-regulate loot boxes before restrictive laws can be put into place which could impact any random reward elements in games. Interested developers can view the full post here.

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