Here’s how the UK gaming industry says it’ll self-regulate lockboxes


Remember a few years ago before NFT scams took over, when politicians realized they could score some press coverage and campaign donations for talking big about finally cracking down on lockboxes/lootboxes/gambleboxes, which have driven monetization in online games for over a decade now? It seems almost quaint now, but all that pressure did result in improvements across the genres, particularly in the form of oversight for games aimed at kids and in transparent lockboxes as companies twisted themselves into pretzels to avoid the “gambling” designation.

Well, you might also remember that last summer, following UK regulators’ finding that lockboxes were “structurally and psychologically akin” to gambling, the UK government threatened to do its job and regulate the industry with legislation if the industry didn’t fix it. A year later, Ukie, the group representing the games industry in the UK, has done the minimum to claim it’s acting in publishing New Principles and Guidance on Paid Loot Boxes. In sum, Ukie says games companies should:

• add and promote tech to block lockboxes from kids barring guardian intervention, with lenient refund policies for kids who somehow sneaked through;
• disclose lootboxes before players download the game and provide clarity and transparency on lockbox probabilities;
• block the “unauthorised external sale of items acquired from Loot Boxes for real money”
• provide “all players with information about how to play responsibly and manage their spending effectively on Loot Boxes”
• and form a panel on “age assurance” in the industry, support research, and cooperate with the government on measuring the effectiveness of the guidelines.

Of course, these are “principles and guidance,” not mandates or rules or laws. “This guidance is not exhaustive, nor prescriptive, to ensure that the principles remain achievable by the entire industry while leaving scope for games companies to continue to innovate,” the document cautions, referring to PEGI’s enforcement and punitive measures, which range from delisting to fines.

Source: Ukie via RPS
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