U.S. senator Josh Hawley has announced the outline for a bill that could apply new consumer protections to video games played by minors. Specifically, it targets games played by those younger than eighteen years of age and aims to prohibit several forms of abusive monetization practices, such as loot boxes and pay-to-win elements. The goal is to have the Federal Trade Commission enforce the bill's proposed rules by treating the distribution of any offending games as unfair trade practices.
The senator has yet to introduce his legislation, currently known as The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, though he should follow through with his plans to present the bill to the U.S. Senate sometime soon.
The Entertainment Software Association has issued a response in light of today's proposed bill, claiming that "numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling," and that the organization will "look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents."
While it's no secret that the Play Store is rife with games that clearly target children with abusive monetization practices, if this bill actually passes I have to wonder how the Android landscape will change. I would imagine PC and console gaming will largely remain the same, with a few shakeups in the FPS and sports genres, though mobile is an entirely different story since the majority of high-profile release on the Play Store employ many of the abusive practices the proposed bill would regulate into nonexistence. I for one welcome such a change if it would impact the excessively greedy crap on the Play Store, though I can easily see why trusting the government to regulate something the majority working for it barely understand surely wouldn't be the greatest of positions to be in as a consumer.
- Hawley Senate
Senator Hawley's 'Abusive Games Act' filed with bipartisan support
On Thursday U.S. senator Josh Hawley filed The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act. This legislation was created to prohibit the use of loot boxes (and other pay-to-win mechanics) in video games targeted at children below the age of eighteen. It would also appear that Hawley has picked up bipartisan support for the proposed bill from senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal. In a weird way, it would seem that it is video games that have finally brought the nation's divided politicians together to agree on something.
- Hawley Senate