A U.S. Senator will introduce a bill that would ban loot boxes and other pay-to-win microtransactions deemed "manipulative" to minors who play video games. If passed, the law could outlaw the sale of loot boxes to underage gamers.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) plans on introducing "The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act" to the United States Senate soon. Hawley cites games like Activision's Candy Crush, which has a $150 "Luscious Bundle" as an example of high-cost microtransactions.
"Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids' attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits," Hawley says. "No matter this business model's advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices."
Games like Fortnite, Overwatch, PUBG, and FIFA have been targeted by legislators in the past over loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions. The practice has been banned in certain European countries like Belgium and Netherlands, and U.S. lawmakers have been looking into similar measures.
Last year, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter to the FTC to investigate loot boxes as gambling. Other state legislators from Hawaii and Washington state have similarly investigated taking some action against loot boxes and microtransactions.
Hawley, who has accused tech companies of anti-conservative bias, has recently taken child privacy online as a critical issue. He has introduced legislative updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act that would allow parents to delete the collected data for internet users under the age of 15.