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UK Games Companies Commit To New Principles On Loot Boxes

The new principles are intended to protect underage gamers

The UK games industry has decided to implement industry guidelines aimed at limiting children’s access to in-game loot boxes. In collaboration with the government, UKIE, the industry’s trade association, has introduced 11 Industry Principles to address concerns raised about loot boxes and improve protection for children, young people and adults.

The principles encompass several key aspects, such as the requirement to disclose the presence of loot boxes in a game before purchase, providing a transparent list of probabilities for loot box contents and implementing an accessible refund policy.

UKIE co-CEO Daniel Wood said, “Publishing these shared principles for how the industry approaches loot boxes is a UK first and provides us with a clear direction moving forwards. The principles will improve protections for all players and underlines the industry’s commitment to safe and responsible play.”

A technical working group comprising representatives from various sectors of the industry collaborated to formulate these principles. Their efforts involved ‘extensive engagement’ with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, other government authorities, academics, third-party advocacy groups and consumer groups.

In response to concerns raised about loot boxes’ impact on young people, the UK government urged the games industry to take measures to protect them in 2022. A UK university study revealed that loot boxes cause ‘financial and emotional harm’ to children.

John Whittingdale, minister for the creative industries said, “We’ve been clear the video games industry needs to do more to protect children and adults from the harms associated with loot boxes. These new principles are a big step forward to make sure players can enjoy video games responsibly and safely. I look forward to seeing games companies put the plans into action and will be watching their progress closely.”

11 principles on paid loot boxes:

  1. Make available technological controls
  2. Drive awareness of and uptake of technological controls
  3. Form an expert panel on age assurance in the games industry
  4. Disclose the presence of loot boxes prior to purchase
  5. Give clear probability disclosures
  6. Design and present loot boxes in a manner that is easily understandable
  7. Support the implementation of the Video Games Research Framework
  8. Continue to tackle the unauthorised external sale of items acquired from loot boxes
  9. Commit to lenient refund policies
  10. Advance protections for all players
  11. Work with UK Government and other relevant stakeholders to measure the effectiveness of these principles

Loot boxes have faced significant criticism, especially in popular titles such as EA’s FIFA series. Despite the UK government’s decision not to legislate the in-game monetisation system, FIFA 23 Ultimate Team mode retained loot boxes, drawing further attention and scrutiny.

The UK’s decision aligns with actions taken by other countries. For example, the Australian government is looking to classify all games with loot boxes as mature content, and in Austria, a court ruled that FIFA’s FUT packs violated the country’s gambling laws.

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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