ASA: Loot Boxes Consultation Period Approaches Deadline

The advertising regulator in the UK reminded stakeholders that the consultation period with regards to providing evidence on loot boxes and other types of in-game purchases is approaching its end, January 28.

Less Than a Week Remaining

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) initiated consultations in November 2020, after some concerns related to certain elements of loot boxes present as in-game purchases were raised by select committees within the government, as well as the public, video game press, various campaign and research organizations.

The authority outlined some of the concerns fall outside of its remit as advertising regulator, ad defined by the UK Code of Advertising (CAP Code), yet identified 3 areas where it can address the harm risks indicated by the concerned parties via formal guidance.

ASA noted that there was no need for new rules as existing ones, when applied appropriately, should be more than enough to address the issues, and opened consultations related to: clarity of information at the point of purchase, the language and approaches adopted for the advertising of in-game purchases, and the use of in-game purchased items in ads for games.

DCMS Needs Further Evidence

ASA’s consultation period followed in the footsteps of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) which also sought to gather evidence on the hot topic of loot boxes and whether certain elements of in-game purchases represent gambling.

Ahead of the long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act, a select committee on immersive and addictive technologies recommended to the DCMS to introduce new specific laws and reclassify in-game purchases as gambling.

Having ended its consultation in November 2020, the DCMS published a policy document related to the upcoming review of the Gambling Act in which DCMS Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston expressed the growing concerns arising from loot boxes.

Despite the growing pressure for the implementation of regulation for in-game purchases, the minister outlined a decision for action would not be made at the heat of the moment but only after a clearer picture can be provided on what exactly type of experience young people have related to loot boxes.

Nigel Huddleston requested potential stakeholders to provide further evidence, as for the market size of loot boxes in the UK, so for harms suffered from loot boxes or potential links to problem gambling.

Reports like the one released in December in which the Gambling Healthcare Alliance pointed out 15% of young gamers in the UK have taken money from their parents for in-game purchases without permission, would certainly weigh on the scales towards regulation for loot boxes.

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