In an unprecedented move, the UK gaming industry has disclosed plans to limit the accessibility of loot boxes to individuals under 18 years of age. The UK games industry body, Ukie, has rolled out a new set of guidelines aimed at empowering the industry to self-regulate and enhance player protection.
The newly introduced guidelines on loot boxes have garnered the support of the Technical Working Group, an initiative convened by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. These measures are an active step in reshaping the industry’s approach to the controversial use of loot boxes.
John Whittingdale, the Minister for the Creative Industries, voiced his strong support for these measures. “The gaming industry needs to amplify its efforts to protect players, particularly children and adults, from the potential harms associated with loot boxes,” said Whittingdale. He eagerly awaits the implementation of these new guidelines by game companies and asserts that he will be closely observing their progress.
Among the introduced measures, one stands out as particularly crucial – the increased usage of parental control settings. These settings would serve to prevent minors from purchasing loot boxes, a feature that has previously been criticized for being too easy to bypass.
To raise awareness among parents and guardians, a comprehensive public information campaign is planned. This campaign aims to highlight the best practices for using parental control settings and provide essential information about the nature of loot boxes.
In another groundbreaking move, Ukie stipulates that game companies must transparently disclose the probabilities of obtaining specific items in loot boxes before any purchase is made. This practice is already seen in games like FIFA Ultimate Team, though the level of detail in such disclosures is still under scrutiny.
Despite this promising step, questions remain about how these guidelines will be enforced, especially since current probability presentations, as seen in FIFA Ultimate Team, are generally considered vague and insufficient.
The effectiveness of these guidelines is set for review in a year. This approach reflects the industry’s commitment to maintaining a high standard of player protection and safety.
This move comes on the heels of last year’s stern warning from the UK government, urging the gaming industry to increase protection for vulnerable players from the potential harms of loot boxes. The government hasn’t ruled out potential legislative action if the industry fails to implement adequate safety measures.
As the gaming industry gears up to embrace these new guidelines, it promises to be a crucial turning point in the ongoing debate around loot boxes and their potential impact on players, particularly minors. The industry’s progress in this matter will undoubtedly be watched with keen interest worldwide.