ESA on Loot Boxes: Taking 1 or 2 Overreactions from Govns and Making Them The Standard Wouldn’t Be Productive

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May 25, 2018
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Mike Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), took the stage during the Nordic Game Conference for his scheduled 2.6 billion and counting: industry evolution and cultural prominence talk.

As reported by GamesIndustry, during yesterday’s talk Gallagher expanded on the rather controversial stance taken by the ESA when it comes to loot boxes: that they’re not to be considered gambling.

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In the US, loot boxes are not gambling for more than the reason I put here. The other one is it’s not converted to value in the world. It can only exist in the digital world – that’s the component that many of these definitions look at. There’s not an exit path, to turn that into something outside of the game.

We have both of those reasons present, predominantly, for loots boxes and in-game transactions around this industry. So going to the one or two isolated over-reactions, seeing how those over-reactions play to one or two governments, and then making that the standard and doing that industry-wide? That’s not going to be productive for the industry, or for gamers.

Let’s inform first, continue to self-regulate, and move ahead that way. It’s worked great for us over the last 20 years. That’s the prescription we should use going forward. There are additional things we can do, and we’ll look at those over the course of time. But it’s only been since April that we’ve implemented the change. We should give it a chance and see how it plays out.

The ‘overreactions of one or two governments’ mentioned by Gallagher is clearly a reference to the Dutch and Belgian governments investigating loot boxes as gambling. In fact, both governments have since ruled that loot boxes in some games are indeed in breach of these countries’ gambling laws and there’s a push for a European-wide regulation.

Of course, the ESA’s stance wouldn’t necessarily be affected by that. On US soil, the bills proposed by Hawaii state representative Chris Lee have all failed so far.

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