An Australian loot box report commissioned by the continent-sized nation recommends a "comprehensive review" of the microtransaction mechanic as reported by IGN.
Loot boxes have been coming under increased scrutiny from government regulators in recent years. After several disastrous incidents including games like Star Wars Battlefront II, regulatory bodies have taken to looking deeper into the issue. The heads of 16 different governmental bodies recently signed a non-binding letter emphasizing their concerns with the practice.
Australia has also been looking into the problem on its own. A report back in September by the Australian Environment and Communications Reference Committee had likened loot box systems to gambling. That Australian loot box report was bad enough and now another government-backed report has come to light.
The Australian loot box report (which is brilliantly separated into multiple PDF files for some reason) goes over the issue with loot boxes in painstaking detail. While we've certainly seen our fair share of government bodies failing to understand video games, the people who put together this text seem to at least have a basic understanding of what they're writing about. (I know - I'm surprised, too.)
Key points include the notion that loot box systems are not implemented in a homogenous fashion. They can comprise a variety of different systems including loot boxes, gacha, prize wheels, and who knows what else. As such, the report finds it difficult to make many definitive statements on the topic.
Ultimately, the Australian loot box report has two key recommendations at the end:
The committee recommends that the Australian Government undertake a comprehensive review of loot boxes in video games.In short, a government committee decided that they need more government committees to investigate the matter more seriously.
This review should commission further research into the potential for gambling-related harms to be experienced as a result of interaction with loot boxes; identify any regulatory or policy gaps which may exist in Australia's regulatory frameworks; examine the adequacy of the Classification Scheme as it relates to video games containing loot boxes; consider if existing consumer protection frameworks adequately address issues unique to loot boxes; and ensure that Australia's approach to the issue is consistent with international counterparts.
Loot boxes have arguably hit their peak and we may see some severe changes in the coming years, although government involvement in these business practices might not be the best idea. For now, the Australian loot box report at least shows that some politicians are getting an understanding of the perils of the system. What they do with that understanding is something we'll have to wait to see.
What do you think of the Australian loot box report? Do you agree that the matter requires more investigation? Let us know in the comments below!