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Hawaii Proposes Bill To Ban Video Game Loot Boxes

15 February 2018

The second pair of bills called House Bill 2727 and Senate Bill 3025 purposes a requirement for publishers to accurately label games that contain the loot box mechanic as well as the probability rates for each of the rewards.

Now, the representative has submitted two bills to the Hawaii State House and two accompanying bills to the Hawaii State Senate. The legislation defines the loot boxes as a randomized in-game reward that can be bought for real money. Basically, loot boxes would be regulated the same way as alcohol.

House Bill 2686 would prohibit the sale of a video game containing a randomized prize for purchase option to anyone under the age of 21. The water is particularly muddy on the age restriction bills, as (most) loot boxes don't have a monetary end reward (all value is determined purely in-game) and there are a number of arguments to be made about video games' first amendment rights as works of art that could shut down attempts to impose legally binding restrictions on their sale.

According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, at this time, there are two pairs of bills aimed at video games like EA's Star Wars Battlefront II.

According to Chris Lee (via VG247), more than half of the states in the USA are pursuing the similar forms of legislation for loot boxes.

It is no secret that many video game development companies have turned to loot boxes and micro-transactions as their main source of profit, rather than the sales of the game units themselves.

The odds disclosure bill also allows the state Department of Commerce to audit the game code to confirm those odds, much as existing state gambling laws allow full audits of slot machine code. It states that video game publishers have recently begun to use "predatory mechanisms" in their games that are "designed to exploit human psychology to compel players to keep spending money in the same way casino games are designed".

While such characters could be unlocked by playing the game long enough - thus earning enough in-game currency to purchase the character - players could unlock them far more quickly by simply purchasing in-game currency with real-life currency, creating a system where players "pay to win".

"It's a $30 billion industry", Lee said.

Lee's anti-loot box bills have yet to be passed. Lee told GameSpot in an interview that it will be a combined effort to enact the kind of change he wants to see. "It's an industry that can reach into everyone's pockets and phones and consoles and PCs, but there's no authority to force them to disclose their practices".

Hawaii Proposes Bill To Ban Video Game Loot Boxes