US Legislator calls Star Wars: Battlefront II’s loot boxes “predatory”

US Legislator calls Star Wars: Battlefront II's loot boxes

US Legislator calls Star Wars: Battlefront II’s loot boxes “predatory”

Pressure is starting to mount to regulate so-called “loot box” systems in online games, with Belgium already seeking to ban such practices within Europe. Hawaiian State Representative, Chris Lee, has now called out EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront, calling the game’s systems “predatory” in a recent press conference, going so far as to call the game a  “Star Wars-themed online casino”.

Loot box system have been available in games for quite some time (especially on mobile platforms), though the use of these systems in AAA games like Blizzard’s Overwatch and EA’s FIFA series has popularised the trend in recent years. In the past few months alone we have seen such systems in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Call of Duty: WWII, Forza Motorsport 7, FIFA 18 and Need for Speed: Payback, showcasing how widespread these “predatory” systems are already. 

Representative Chris Lee wants the US to regulate such systems and create “future protections for kids, youth, and everyone when it comes to the spread of predatory practices in online gaming”. In the US Gambling is prohibited under the age of 21 (18 in some states), leaving loot boxes in hot water if the US officially classifies these systems as a form of gambling.  

  

    It’s a trap, And this is something that we need to address to ensure that, particularly kids who are underage, who are not psychologically and emotionally mature enough to be able to gamble—which is why gambling is prohibited under 21—are protected from being trapped into these cycles which have compelled many folks to spend thousands of dollars in gaming fees online.

We’re looking at legislation this coming year which could prohibit access, or prohibit the sale of these games, to folks who are underage, in order to protect families, as well as prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms in those games.

 

On Reddit, Lee explained his opinions on Loot Boxes further, stating that these systems are designed to exploit human psychology in a similar way to Casino games, which is a dangerous thing for the young or vulnerable people.  

Lee also compares this to the US’ crackdown on advertisements for cigarettes, saying that “We didn’t allow Joe Camel to encourage your kids to smoke cigarettes, and we shouldn’t allow Star Wars to encourage your kids to gamble”.

   These kinds of loot boxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed,

This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all.

 

 

Right now it seems that the ball has officially started rolling when it comes to legislating “loot boxes” in games, with movement starting within both the EU and the United States. At this time it is unknown how these systems will be regulated, provided these movements are successful. 

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