Update: The Entertainment Software Association has issued a response to the news of Hawaii's loot box legislation.
"As an industry, we take our responsibility to consumers very seriously and continually work to create greater awareness and transparency about the wide range of in-game experiences. We strongly believe that the industry's robust, self-regulatory efforts remain the most effective way to address these important issues, and that system has a proven and long record of doing so."
It seems the ESA is keen on maintaining its self-regulating indepdence. The group added that the ESRB ratings already include notices about in-game purchases and that there are parental controls in place for parents to limit their child's spending. However, it will be up to state legislators to decide whether the ESRB's notices are enough.
Original Story:Following through on its propsoals from late last year, state lawmakers in Hawaii have introduced four bills that would regulate the sale of video games that feature loot boxes.
Two months ago, Hawaii state Rep. Chris Lee held a press conference decrying video game loot boxes as gambling. He specifically called out EA's Star Wars Battlefront 2 as "a Star Wars-themed online casino," and said that he would seek potential legislation to prohibit the sale of loot box video games.
The two bills in Hawaii's state house and senate seeks to enact on those promises. House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025 will try and force publishers to prominently label games with loot boxes and detail their drop rates.
House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024 will prohibit the sale of games with loot boxes that use real money to prohibit the sale of video games with loot boxes to players younger than 21 years old.
As reported by the Hawaii Tribune Herald, state Rep. Lee said, "I grew up playing games my whole life. I've watched firsthand the evolution of the industry from one that seeks to create new things to one that's begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit."
The loot box controversy broke out into the mainstream after players began pushing back on the loot box systems in Battlefront 2, which players allege featured "pay-to-win" mechanics. Since then, foreign governments in Belgium have proposed banning games with loot boxes, while the Chinese government has already forced some publishers to reveal the loot box drop rates as part of anti-gambling measures.
We've reached out to the ESA regarding any possible changes these legislations could have on the ESRB rating system, and will report back with any updates.