UK Games Industry Trade Body Introduces New Loot Box Guidelines

Published: July 18, 2023 8:40 AM /


A UK government image of an opening treasure chest against a gaming equipment backdrop, intended to represent loot boxes

The UK gaming industry has introduced a set of 11 new guidelines intended to protect gamers from harm surrounding loot boxes.

Trade body UKIE announced the new guidelines via its website earlier today. 

The organization says that the new guidelines are intended to help make loot box purchases unavailable to children unless effected by a parent or guardian, and to give players access to "spending controls and transparent information" around loot boxes.

The new guidelines come after UK research drew a "robust" link between loot boxes and gambling in 2021, and after the UK's Gambling Health Alliance found that more than 1 in 10 young gamers were in debt after spending too much money on loot boxes.

A player dribbling the ball through tackling opponents in FIFA 23, a game which is part of a series accused of using loot boxes for predatory microtransactions
EA's FIFA series (which is now known as EA Sports FC) has been accused of predatory loot box behavior.

Among the new guidelines are the availability of "technological controls" to restrict gamers under the age of 18 from purchasing a loot box without a parent or guardian knowing, as well as a "targeted public information campaign" to drive awareness of said controls.

Said campaign will star presenter and comedian Judi Love and will begin this month, running for three years. It'll inform parents on how to use parental controls to manage screen time, loot box purchases, and other aspects of gaming.

Other guidelines include disclosure of loot boxes in games at point of sale, as well as clearer loot box design, lenient loot box refund policies, and clear probability disclosure.

UKIE says that the guidelines will be reviewed after 12 months to judge their effectiveness. 

It remains to be seen whether these guidelines will have a serious impact, especially as they don't appear to make mention of battle passes, which are arguably a replacement for battle passes in many games, including in Overwatch 2. Still, better late than never, I suppose.

You can check out the full range of UKIE's new gaming industry loot box guidelines, including full descriptions of each principle, via the trade body's official website.

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