Australian Senate Inquiry Into Loot Boxes Will Report By September 17

Following notice of a motion submitted by the Australian Greens yesterday, the Australian Senate has supported a move to have the Environment and Communications References Committee investigate the use of loot boxes in video games.

The committee enquiry will be chaired by Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, who gave notice of the motion yesterday. That motion noted that a paper in Nature Human Behaviour, which Kotaku reported on last week, warned that the use of loot boxes in some video games "meet the structural and psychological criteria for gambling".

Psychologists Argue Loot Boxes In Some Games Are 'Akin To Gambling'

A comment paper published in Nature Human Behaviour argues that loot boxes in some video games, including Call of Duty. Infinite Warfare, FIFA 18, Halo Wars 2 and For Honor, can "meet the structural and psychological criteria for gambling".

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The motion, which was supplied to Kotaku, notes that the committee will report back by September 17 this year. It also outlines two particular points of concern:

The extent to which gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items, sometimes referred to as 'loot boxes', may be harmful, with particular reference to:

(a) whether the purchase of chance-based items, combined with the ability to monetise these items on third-party platforms, constitutes a form of gambling, and;

(b) the adequacy of the current consumer protection and regulatory framework for in-game micro transactions for chance-based items, including international comparisons, age requirements and disclosure of odds.

The Federal Government and the Labor opposition had already announced their support for the motion yesterday, with a government senator remarking that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had already mentioned loot boxes "with a number of colleagues".

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Comments

    Another nail in the coffin of this crap.

    Thank god.

    There is literally no difference between loot boxes and any form of trading card we played with 15 years ago. The baby-boomer-fun-police have too much power and continue to curb anything they don't understand. It is up to the consumer to work out for themselves if they want to spend money on something that is purely cosmetic. If they spend more money than they can afford to, it's on them as there is no financial or performance gain.

      Ahhh obviously those thirteen year olds that believe themselves adults are able to understand the process that goes into these scams.

      Even as someone that tends to fall pretty hard into libertarian ideology, this is bad. You are essentially saying that people who are ill equipped to deal with their vices (addicts, young, old and mentally handicapped) should just deal with it. Seems pretty cold.

      As "Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John" was born in 1994, I'm fairly sure he doesn't count as a baby boomer.

      As for your "purely cosmetic" comment, please see Battlefront 2.

      It is up to the consumer to work out for themselves if they want to spend money on something that is purely cosmetic

      And that's exactly where the problem is, it's not always only cosmetic. Sure a lot of games are turning that way, but a lot still release with Pay to win loot boxes.

      Not to mention the logic of a trading card you can literally keep for as long as you take care of it and tradable or sellable to whomever you want compared to a temporary item that is locked forever to that game and if it's online, that games online service (which never last forever). Strap that with some having Pay to Win incentives and its not the same whatsoever.

      I mean, I have no issue with cosmetic loot boxes, would rather they not be loot boxes, but still, I enjoy them as it funds more development into the game and helps you support games you enjoy playing. But a lot of games abuse this and the games that do, do it bad. Alot of backed down after the BF2 fiasco, but nothing stops them from going back and doing it again. And when some of those games market heavily to kids (like Star Wars did), that's a serious problem.

      Yep. Anyone who thinks this is a win for gamers is in for a very rude surprise.

        How so?

          Well if other instances of government involvement and regulation of things is anything to go by, this is unlikely to be a dream 'end of evil microtransactions' outcome for gamers like people seem to think. Especially when it comes to something like games which politicians appear to have no understanding of (or a deliberate misunderstanding of). Need I point out the debacle that is our R18+ system?
          A more likely outcome of this inquiry is that if they deem microtransactions to be gambling, then they'll make any games that include micro-transactions 'refused classification'.

            Dude, there's a reason why politicians noticed this shit recently and not, say, during the whole Horse Armor controversy. Even the most out-of-touch politician can recognize the difference between paying for a defined thing, and paying to roll the dice.

            It's not IMPOSSIBLE that they'll start mindlessly slapping anything with in-game purchases with the "RC" label, but I don't think it's "more likely".

              Hope you’re right. Unfortunately I have a lot less faith in our politicians.

      I'll take the down vote from nicktoffcial to add my $0.02 on this. These mechanics are designed to exploit the same traits gambling addicts are susceptible to, it's that simple, that's how they're profitable. I haven't seen the "baby-boomer-fun-police" calling for it to be banned, they're just calling for it to be labelled what it is: gambling. Which adults should be free to do as they please.

      The biggest difference is access to product. With loot boxes, you can literally keep on pressing the "buy" button on repeat until you either get what you want or go into negative bank balance, there's no cool down period between buys. With booster packs, you actually have to go up to a counter and purchase another pack every time you want to try your luck again, that adds a psychological gate that isn't present with online loot boxes.

      "It is up to the consumer to work out for themselves if they want to spend money on something that is purely cosmetic. "

      Problem with basketball cards they weren't JUST cosmetic. They were actually worth money. I sold a stack of cards and even got up to $50 for some individual cards.

    Somebody is holding out for larger "Campaign contributions." ;)

    C'mon Burnley!

    While on one side this great, on the other, kind of feels like a waste of tax payer money.

      The money that goes into this is insignificant compared to how much Bronny spent on that helicopter ride.

    of the current consumer protection and regulatory framework for in-game micro transactions for chance-based items
    While I am all for this senate inquiry, I would of preferred it if the ACCC & ATO came out and investigated this on a consumer protection and corporate operational level for ALL microtransactions, not just the chance ones.

    Even before loot boxes, there is really something disgusting about the artificial gating of content in games or the inflation of game grinds/difficulties to force consumers to buy microtransactions (like in Candy Crush), or the spamming of advertisements in game to encourage people to buy microtransactions (as these target vulnerable users and children), or that most money raised by microtransactions is not taxed in Australia due to offshore banking practices of Apple / Google / Sony / Microsoft / Steam (as the store front) and that many publishers and developers are not licensed corporations in Australia with ABN or TFNs.

    This is an interesting one. I don't like the FIFA ultimate team system because that is pay to win, nor do I like Hearthstone's pay to win system. I do enjoy rocket league's cosmetic only upgrades though.

    There's nothing quite like opening a black market decal and I hope I can continue to do so.

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