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".
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".
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".
This story is developing...