Readers following the long-running lootbox/lockbox debate will recall that back in February of this year, New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan, who sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, questioned FTC reps about gaming addiction and lockboxes as well as urged the ESRB to overhaul its ratings process in regard to lootboxes.
Perhaps you thought that would go nowhere, but you’d be wrong. During yesterday’s Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security subcommittee hearing focusing on oversight of the FTC, Hassan reasserted her concerns, quoted from the UK Gambling Commission’s recent report on lockboxes and kids, and asked each of the FTC reps present to commit to an investigation on the effects and impacts of lootboxes. And the FTC agreed.
The ESA issued a statement to Polygon about the decision; it will surprise no one (and the last clause in particular seems a hard sell in gameworlds governed by pay-to-win):
“Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer. Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.”
You can watch the entire committee meeting on the Senate website, or just check out the relevant clip of Hassan’s questioning on her own YouTube.