Lawmakers in Hawaii have just introduced four new bills, which are all aimed at regulating the sale of video game loot boxes. Regulatory bodies such as the ESA, PEGI, ESRB, and multiple gaming commissions are still debating about whether or not loot boxes can be classified as gambling, but Hawaii has apparently done more than just talking about the issue. As reported by PlayStation Lifestyle, the four bills can basically be segregated into two categories, with one pair focusing on the age restrictions for the purchase of loot boxes and the other pair focusing on the transparency of the actual odds associated with specific loot boxes.
If passed into law, Senate Bill 3024 and House Bill 2686 would prohibit the sale of any in-game item that generates random rewards for players to people under 21-years-old. How exactly this will be regulated is still up for debate. Senate Bill 3025 and House Bill 2727, on the other hand, will legally require game developers and publishers to label all loot boxes with specific details pertaining to the possible items that will be rewarded and the odds of them coming out. Under these House Bills, all in-game purchases that involve the use of real money in exchange for packages that reward random items, boosters, or bonuses are included.
Most loot boxes in today’s games don’t really outline the specific probabilities of getting any particular item, but with the new Bills, developers may be required to include a long list of items that may be rewarded along with their accompanying odds. It is understandable that a lot of the developers and publishers will oppose these types of regulations, with some likely to call upon their game’s first amendment rights as being works of art.
Ever since developers have discovered just how profitable loot boxes can be, the in-game transaction system has found its way into different mediums. Mobile games, big-name console games, and online multiplayer titles are now starting to feature the particular purchasing mechanic with very profitable results. Last year, games like Star Wars Battlefront II faced an endless stream of controversy revolving around its sale of loot boxes that yield very low chances of actually producing the desired items for players. Regulatory bodies around the world had started their investigation around the issue, with some voting against its proliferation, while others were for its continued use to support developers.
The success of any of the four bills could have a widespread impact on the gaming industry as a whole as other states may follow suit in regulating video game loot boxes. However, it has to be noted that it does take a long time for a bill to be signed into law and a lot of things can happen before the bills are passed into law.