Video game companies should be banned from selling so-called loot boxes to children over fears they can turn them into gambling addicts, MPs said last night.
Players pay real money for the virtual boxes and they earn gaming companies billions of pounds.
The boxes contain a random prize, which is only revealed when the box is paid for and opened. This could be a new gun in a shooting game or a new car in a driving game.
Video game companies should be banned from selling so-called loot boxes to children in games such as FIFA20, according to MPs
However, the player has to keep buying them until they strike lucky and get the prize they want – like a gambler having repeated goes on a one-armed bandit.
Damian Collins leads the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
A report by the Commons culture committee revealed one gamer had spent up to £1,000 a year on loot boxes in EA’s Fifa football game for a chance to get better players. And a parent revealed their adult son had built up debts of more than £50,000 through in-game transactions.
The MPs demanded manufacturers make it harder for users to play games for dangerously long periods or spend too much. And they called on ministers to force the companies to fund research into gaming addiction.
Committee chairman Damian Collins said: ‘Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up.’
The report by the digital, culture, media and sport committee also said it ‘struggled to get clear answers’ from the games industry, describing firms as ‘wilfully obtuse’.