IGDA Issues Call to Action to Fellow Developers: Self-Regulate Loot Boxes


The IGDA (International Game Developers Association) today issued a press release as a call to action for fellow developers, with the goal to advocate self-regulation of loot boxes before the governments take care of the issue.

IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean wrote:

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Earlier this week, the United States Federal Trade Commission agreed to investigate loot box monetization and its potential impact on children.

This announcement, which follows Belgium’s investigation and restrictions in the Netherlands on the use of loot boxes, should be a clear wakeup call to the game development industry that we must address how we use loot boxes, especially when they’re in games played by children.

Random loot drops are a well-established game mechanic, and a way to vary rewards and keep players interested and engaged. But when a player makes a real-money purchase of an unknown item-a loot box-we run the risk of triggering gambling laws. Those regulations are not always clear, and many people have noted that loot boxes are simply digital versions of collectible card games, but we cannot ignore the fact that video games face increased scrutiny, concern, and regulation because of their immersive nature.

We have a blueprint for taking action as a community, and industry, in how we established clear, easy-to-understand game ratings and content descriptions so that consumers, and especially parents, understand what’s in the games they or their children play. As an industry and community, we should take the following steps immediately:

  • Affirm an industry commitment to not market loot boxes to children
  • Clearly disclose the odds of different rewards when purchasing loot boxes (as many games already do to comply with Chinese law)
  • Launch a coordinated education campaign that boosts awareness of the parental controls that are available to appropriately limit how players engage with games

By not taking significant action as an industry and global game developer community to self-regulate how loot boxes are used, we run the very real risk that governments around the world will take that action for us, and perhaps create significantly restrictive laws that could impact any random reward elements in games. I offer my strongest advice to game developers and interactive entertainment businesses on this matter: addressing how loot boxes are used is both the right thing and the smart thing for the global game development industry to do.

To their credit, some developers are already doing it. However, an industry-wide response would be optimal as it's been now well over a year since loot boxes became a contentious and controversial topic throughout the games industry.