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Hawaiian lawmakers want to prohibit loot boxes with new bills

Four bills proposed last month take aim at "exploitative" forms of video game monetization, and take particular issue with loot boxes.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

February 13, 2018

1 Min Read

Lawmakers in Hawaii are trying to introduce legislation that would limit the use of electronic gambling techniques in video games. 

As reported by the Hawaii Tribune, four bills proposed last month take aim at "exploitative" forms of video game monetization, and take particular issue with loot boxes. 

All four refer to the commonly used mechanic, which usually see players drop real-world or in-game currency on a crate containing randomized rewards.

Two of the bills, House Bill 2686 and Senate Bill 3024, would prohibit the sale of any game featuring a loot crate system based on real-world cash to anyone under the age of 21. 

The other two, House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025, would force game publishers to clearly label games featuring loot boxes, and also reveal the probability rates of each reward drop. 

The bills are being championed by Representative Chris Lee of Oahu, who last year condemned the "predatory behavior" of publishers that employ the loot box model. 

Lee was speaking in the wake of the Star Wars: Battlefront II loot box debacle, and called out EA for creating what he referred to as a "Star Wars-themed online casino."

"This fight is about protecting kids, protecting families, freedom from exploitation, and the future of entertainment in this country," said Lee at the time. 

"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. This is especially true for young adults who child psychologists and other experts explain are particularly vulnerable."

Lee wasn't the only official to take issue with the practice, and investigators and politicians from other countries including Belgium and the United Kingdom have also voiced their concerns.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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