Australia to ban loot boxes for kids
Australia may be looking to ban loot boxes in games named at children. This is if a bill put forward by an Australian lawmaker passes into law.
Andrew Wilkie, introduced the bill into the Australian parliament yesterday. The bill proposes that loot box mechanics prey on the same impulses that gambling does. More importantly, it proposes that these mechanics—which have players pay real money for random in-game items—can serve as a pathway to get children hooked on it. (Read: Beyond loot boxes: Research finds deeper link between gambling and video games)
“By tempting players with the potential to win game-changing items, encouraging risk-taking for possible reward, delivering random prizes on an intermittent basis, and encouraging players to keep spending money, loot boxes give rise to many of the same emotions and experiences associated with poker machines and traditional gambling activities,” reads the proposed bill.
The bill suggests that any game with loot boxes, or systems similar to them, should be restricted only to those over Australia’s legal gambling age of 18 of not outright refused classification—effectively banned from sale in Australia. In addition, games that make it through must carry warning labels specifying the reason for the rating as well.
Should the bill be passed into law and Australia effectively ban loot boxes in games aimed at kids, it will be following in the footsteps of countries like Belgium and the Netherlands which have similar legislation. As such, it could result in some games not releasing outright in the country.
When Diablo Immortal, Blizzard’s mobile take on the classic Diablo franchise, launched earlier this year, it specifically skipped the aforementioned countries due to their loot box laws.
Of course, with more countries looking to restrict loot boxes, publishers could start moving to other, hopefully less predatory, monetization strategies. Blizzard already made such a pivot with Overwatch 2, giving the game a battle pass system in place of loot boxes.
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