Loot boxes are a sore spot for gamers after all the controversy were caused by popular games late last year. Hawaii is now seeking to regulate the practice with two sets of bills. Both would bar retailers from selling games that include loot boxes to anyone under the age of 21.
Loot boxes are widely hated by those in the gaming community. Even if they're just touted as "cosmetic" purchases.
Loot Box Laws
House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024 make it illegal to sell any games featuring a loot box system. It goes further to outline the loot box system by defining it as having randomized rewards or some sort of digital economy that can be used for randomized rewards.
The second set of bills, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would make video game publishers clearly label games that include loot boxes. A video game would have a bright red warning label just like cigarettes on the cover. For games that are sold online, this warning would have to be included on the page where the game is available for purchase.
"Warning: contains in-game purchases and gambling-like mechanisms which may be harmful or addictive," reads the proposed language.
Both sets of bills would have to make it out of committed and be passed in both chambers.
Hawaii At The Forefront
One of the first U.S. politicians to speak out against the practice of loot boxes is Hawaii House of Representatives member Chris Lee. After the horrendous launch of Star Wars Battlefront II, Rep. Lee came out against what he called "predatory behavior."
"The game is a Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money," said Lee. "It's a trap."
Lee also took to Reddit to explain his stance on loot boxes. Explaining that this is an issue that affects everybody on both sides of the political spectrum.
"These kinds of loot boxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed," said Lee on Reddit. "This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable. These exploitive mechanisms and the deceptive marketing promoting them have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all."
Lee is a co-sponsor on both of the House bills. He calls out video games with loot boxes for being a manifestation of a predatory system. This was especially true in the case of Star Wars Battlefront II, where it was designed to be pay-to-win with everything that could be purchased in the game.