Hawaii introduces four new bills targeting the sale of loot boxes

Hawaii's Loot Box Ban Might Have Major Loot Hole

Bills target video games with rewards for a price

If it were to pass, anyone in the state of Hawaii under the age of 21 would be unable to purchase games containing loot box systems.

The bills are being championed by Representative Chris Lee of Oahu, who past year condemned the "predatory behavior" of publishers that employ the loot box model. How exactly this could be regulated is not clear.

Hawaii's House bill 2727, meanwhile, would require game publishers to publicly disclose the odds of obtaining specific items from randomized loot boxes in their games. Previously, Belgium had ruled that loot crates in Star Wars Battlefront II could be classified as gambling.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports on two pairs of bills that address the issue head-on. He explained that he was also used to play video games and he is familiar with the development of the gaming industry, which "has begun to exploit people, especially children, to maximize profit". All games with loot boxes would also have to be labeled to show they included microtransactions and the odds of the rewards would also have to be disclosed. This meant, back then, that players either had the choice of sitting down and playing the game for actual hundreds of hours in order to acquire their favorite characters, or cave in and buy loot boxes until, eventually, they managed to unlock those characters.

Any such bill would certainly force developers and publishers to reconsider how they monetize their games moving forward.

A quartet of proposed bills introduced last month target exploitative monetization techniques in video games that some fear might psychologically condition players to become addicted to gambling. However, the proposed loot box ban would break new ground if those bills are successfully turned into law. These bills make it unlawful for retailers to sell video games utilizing loot box sales 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. "It's bigger than Hollywood". Do you hope Hawaii strikes a blow against loot boxes, or is imposing legislation on video games going a step too far? Speaking to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, he mentions that the industry would have to change its practices if enough of the market reacts.

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