After being delayed twice to allow for more evidence, the federal inquiry into loot boxes will table their findings this afternoon, Kotaku Australia understands.
Update #2: Here's the report:
The Senate inquiry into "gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items" - otherwise known as the loot box inquiry - has tabled its report to Parliament, recommending that the Federal Government undertake a "comprehensive review of loot boxes in video games".
Update (1600 AEDT): The loot box report is still scheduled to be tabled in the Senate today, Kotaku Australia understands, although its publication is not expected until later tonight. The original story follows below.
The upper house inquiry came as a surprise to local gamers earlier this year, with Labor and the Coalition surprising the Greens by supporting a motion from Greens Senator Steele-John in the Senate in late June. Liberal senator James McGrath stood up and said that "loot boxes in video games raise issues that are worthy of close examination", and mentioned that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had raised the issue of loot boxes.
Senator Anthony Chisholm then announced Labor's support, and a day later the committee inquiry into microtransactions and loot boxes was carried on the voices. Public submissions started following in shortly thereafter, along with a wealth of opinions from academics and government representatives.
The Senate inquiry into loot boxes isn't due to report back until mid-September. Ahead of their deliberations, members of industry, academia and the public have made submissions to the panel. Here's what they had to say.
Representatives of the gaming industry argued that publishers, developers and platforms "typically do not allow loot boxes, virtual items or game points" to be traded, gambled or sold on other markets, and they echoed the legislative view aired earlier in the year that loot boxes were not considered a form of gambling. Other bodies took a different tack: the Australian Institute of Family Studies recommended banning "microtransactions for chance-based items in online games available in Australia", and Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice said "it cannot be assumed" that the market would not prevent "more insidious uses of gaming microtransactions that resemble gambling" going forward.
"Game developers are, after all, increasingly reliant on the use of micro-transactions to monetise gameplay and thus fund both the initial development of the game and the development of additional downloadable content to keep the game fresh and exciting," the QLD Attorney-General's submission said.
The deputy secretary of Liquor Gaming & Racing NSW outlined a compromise between those two approaches, suggesting "investigating opportunities by the Classification Board" to offer more information through the classification system, and noted that they were "concerned" about the risk of gambling becoming normalised through minors "from chance-based items such as loot boxes".
The Victorian minister for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, added that Victoria "strong supports" federal action. "More stringent classification of video games that include loot boxes or similar items would better recognise the potential harm that can arise from the convergence of gaming and gambling and the consequent normalisation of gambling," the minister said in her submission.
With just under a month until the Senate inquiry into "gaming microtransactions for chance-based items" - loot boxes and such - reports back, more submissions to the inquiry have been made public. Two of those submissions have come from the Victorian Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, as well as the NSW Government's deputy secretary of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, and both submissions are encouraging an update to the classification guidelines to recognise loot boxes.
The inquiry was due to report back by September 17, but was delayed by a month after a public inquiry where Dr. David Zendle presented the findings of an online study investigating the impact and effect of loot boxes. The committee then delayed the report's release by another month, allowing for more submissions and filings, including supplementary information from the Netherlands Gambling Authority.