By now there are few gamers out there not familiar with the whole Star Wars: Battlefront 2 loot box debacle. While EA has removed the controversial mechanic for the time being, it seems more people including politicians are taking a stand against what has been described as a “predatory practice”.
For those who for some reason are not familiar with the whole controversy (where have you been all this time?), EA’s latest Star Wars: Battlefront 2 game allows players to purchase loot boxes each containing a reward that could impact gameplay. Some of the loot boxes might also contain in-game currency with which to unlock new characters. The main issues stem from the fact that the rewards that these boxes contain are randomized which has lead many to compare the practice to gambling.
The latest group to lend their voices to the outcry against the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 loot box system is United States politicians who represent the state of Hawaii. In a press conference led by state representative Chris Lee the loot boxes in the Star Wars game was referred to as being a “predatory practice” that take advantage of vulnerable youths. Lee stated that he was taking action to ensure future protection, not just for kids, but everyone else.
“This game is a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money. It’s a trap. This is something we need to address to ensure that particularly kids who are underage, who are not psychologically and emotionally mature enough to gamble–which is why gambling is prohibited under [the age of] 21–are protected from being trapped into these cycles which have compelled many folks to spend thousands of dollars in gaming fees online.”
Lee also confirmed that Hawaii and other states were looking into legislation that would change the way that video games containing loot boxes are sold.
“We’re looking at legislation this coming year which could prohibit the sale of these games to folks who are underage in order to protect these families, as well as prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms in those games,” he explained. “We’ve been talking with several other states as well [and] legislators there are looking at the same thing. I think this is an appropriate time to make sure these issues are addressed before this becomes the norm for every new game.”
A video of the press conference was quickly posted on Reddit after which Lee responded to the slew of comments compelling readers to continue to support their efforts and to act on this practice by contacting their own state legislators and requesting that they act against this.
“These kinds of loot boxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all.”
Along with Hawaii, Belguim’s Gaming Commission has also recently voiced their concern about the loot box system in the game again comparing it to gambling and seeking to ban the practice.
While it’s great to see so many stand up to what could at the least be considered an unfair practice, the question still remains: How would this affect games like Overwatch‘s cosmetic loot boxes, which also contain randomised rewards? It will be interesting to see if the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 controversy will spill over to other game franchises.