US Federal Trade Comission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simmons promised Congress the agency will look into video game loot boxes amid rising concerns for how the mechanic impacts children in relation to gambling and addiction.
The pledge was given during a hearing into the FTC's handling of Facebook and Google after the Cambridge Analytica data-leak when Congress brought up the issue of children's safety online. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) told Simons that loot boxes are an "endemic" to the video game industry and that children are "particularly susceptible" to the mechanic. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) also raised concerns citing one microtransaction where a character continued to cry unless the player made a purchase.
Hassan also cited a UK report that said 30 percent of kids with problems with gambling also used loot boxes, a correlation that was widely reported on but one that the UK Gambling Commission said showed no link between loot boxes and gambling.
Regardless, Simons said the FTC was "undertaking this project and keeping the committee informed about it," on loot boxes.
The United States has made some push against loot boxes but not to the extend that European countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have. In Belgium, loot boxes are becoming more-and-more restricted while in the US legislation against loot boxes have failed to make it into law.
The controversy which began with EA's Star Wars Battlefront 2 made large impacts on the game industry and is an ongoing discussion as game companies continue to look for new ways to monetize its games.