Today, the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published a lengthy report on issues in the tech industry. Most pertinently, the committee recommends that loot boxes be regulated under the Gambling Act and that these items should not be sold to children. The DCMS also says that some game industry representatives have “demonstrated a lack of honesty and transparency” in related hearings – and they weren’t fans of the one in which EA coined the term “surprise mechanics,” either. Previously, the UK Gambling Commission ruled that loot boxes cannot be regulated as gambling because there’s no mechanism to turn in-game items received into real-world money. The DCMS report says that this is “arguably out-of-step with the digital economies in the games industry,” since loot box items have other types of value – and many players have expressed the desire to purchase those items directly. Similarly, the DCMS argues that while the sale or trade of in-game items for real money is specifically forbidden in the terms and conditions of most games, game publishers are not doing an adequate job in preventing these sorts of sales from taking place. Thus, there is a backdoor way to trade in-game items for real-world value.
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