Hawaii State representative Chris Lee is taking a firm stance against “the spread of predatory practices in online gaming.”
In light of the recent controversy surrounding EA and Star Wars Battlefront II, Lee and his team have announced that they are “looking at legislation” in the upcoming year that would prohibit the sale of games with loot boxes and other so-called gambling elements to players under the age of 21. Lee believes that the loot boxes present in Star Wars Battlefront II are a form of gambling and is looking to possibly restrict the inclusion of these elements in future games.
Lee and his team have also been in conversations with other legislators who are examining the issue in their own states as part of an effort to curb what he describes as “predatory behavior” on the part of game publishers.
“This game is a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money,” Lee said. Citing the significant financial impact gambling addiction can have on families, Lee says he is concerned with the impact these games could have on players under the age of 21.
Lee argues that a lack of emotional and psychological maturity on the part of young players makes them more susceptible to exploitation by games in which loot boxes can be purchased. He said he feels now is the appropriate time for these issues to be addressed “before this becomes the new norm for every game.”
“These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed,” he said in a Reddit post following up on the announcement video.
“We have been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue,” Lee said. “Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.”
Responding to overwhelmingly negative consumer feedback, EA made the shocking announcement that Battlefront II’s microtransactions would be temporarily taken offline mere hours before the game’s launch last week. Battlefront II’s developer, DICE, said that though they still to bring back microtransactions at a later date, they would spend time tweaking and balancing them in the interim.
“We’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right,” the developer said in a statement.
Internationally, there have already been initiatives to limit loot box usage, with Belgium’s Gaming Commission seeking an outright Europen ban.
In our review, we said that Star Wars Battlefront II is a great Star Wars game held back by a poor progression and loot crate system.