This has been a long time coming for sure: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking to launch an investigation into the practice of introducing loot boxes in video games. The issue has already been brought up numerous times in other countries around the globe (Belgium
and the Netherlands
being the most prominent ones against its implementation). Only now will the FTC investigate openly into this, though, following an official request by Senator Maggie Hassan during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing.
"Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smartphone games to the newest, high budget releases," said Hassan. She went on to say that they "represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022." Of course, that same value that they can hold by 2022 will likely stand in the way of any serious regulation - those are some additional $50 billion rolling through the economy, after all. And the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) obviously reduces loot boxes' issues; a representative told Polygon that "Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not."