Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission, a government-connected but independent regulatory agency, signaled intentions to look at the controversy of loot boxes within the gaming space. The Entertainment Software Association, or ESA, immediately fired back that such a move was unnecessary, and the FTC was fairly quiet about it in the ensuing months. Now it seems they’re back on the trail, as the agency has indicated that they will hold a public workshop on the topic later this year.
The FTC has been conducting their own investigation in the intervening months since their November declaration, but is not able to comment on anything the investigation entailed.
“I appreciate the FTC’s continued engagement on the issue of loot boxes, particularly in regards to the well-being of young gamers,” wrote New Hampshire senator Maggie Hassan, who kicked off the investigations by requesting the FTC’s intervention. “A public workshop on loot boxes is a step in the right direction, and I encourage the FTC to continue working with consumer advocates, parents, gamers, and industry members to ensure that meaningful improvements are made to increase transparency and consumer protections around loot boxes.”
The workshop will likely include representation from the industry, presumably in the form of an ESA representative, parent groups, and consumer advocacy groups. The result is anticipated not to be anything worse a consumer alert, but the main intention is to use the workshop to shape how the FTC proceeds from here. Any sort of legislative action is not going to take place at this level.
In the meantime, several states are investigating how to handle loot boxes in terms of local legislation, with Washington and Hawaii politicians seeking state-level remedies to what they deem as selling gambling to children.