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FTC investigates video game loot boxes


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Federal regulators have vowed to investigate a growing trend in video games that analysts say could soon become a $50 billion industry but that has drawn fire from critics who compare the practice to gambling.

Senior officials at the Federal Trade Commission, America’s top consumer watchdog, said Tuesday that they will look more closely at loot boxes — the bundles of digital goods offered to players, often for a fee, that contain random assortments of in-game clothing, abilities or other rewards.

Asked by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to probe the issue at an agency oversight hearing, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said he would commit to launching a probe. The four other commissioners who testified also indicated their support.

Hassan said she was concerned that loot boxes have become endemic in the gaming industry and that by enticing players to spend ever increasing amounts of money rolling for random loot the practice showed a “close link to gambling.”


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I'm wondering what the industry could possibly do at this point to self regulate.

Even if the console and phone OS companies banded together to require disclosure of odds and parental warnings, they'll still have to convince the likes of EA/Activision-Blizzard/etc to reverse course on their PC clients.

Whatever this is needs to be comprehensive.  I could see future scenario where instead of selling boxes directly, publishers start sell loot pack modifiers to temporarily increase crate odds, or even the frequency they drop.

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