Microtransactions and the purchase of real money button boxes have become an important part of the video game industry, and constitute the business model of many popular titles. However, they do not come without controversy. Now, a bill promoted by US senators wants to make these types of transactions illegal.
The organization Entertainment Software Rating Board intervened a while ago in the growing controversy over real money in the loot boxes or video game button boxes, stating that you don't consider them as bets. However, not everyone thinks the same and the debate is far from over, especially because this type of system is aimed at attracting minors, who make up a large percentage of the players.
Based on this, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is in the process of presenting a bill that will prohibit the sale of button boxes and other types of microtransactions in video games. The Washington Post reported that the Hawley bill, called the Child Protection Act Against Abusive Games, will affect not only games designed for children, but also those games that are more mature but have a large number of players under 18 years old, like Call of duty or Mortal Kombat.
One of the main titles in the sights is Fortnite. This popular Battle Royale game is available for free, but it is reported that, thanks to internal microtransactions, last year generated more than two billion dollars (2 billion). Other games that have some version of microtransactions include PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Overwatch, FIFA 19, NBA 2K19in addition to Apex Legends, which since its inception as an alternative to Fortnite It has swept popularity and number of players.
For its part, the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the political interests of US video game companies, plans to oppose this bill, saying that they do not constitute an illegal transaction and that parents already have tools to control online expenses. their children.
This is not a recent situation, nor restricted only to the United States. At the end of 2017, the Game Commission of Belgium conducted an investigation of several of the most prominent games that use this system, including Star Wars Battlefront II Y Overwatch. This investigation began because the button boxes do not reveal their contents but after the players buy them, which for some constitutes a bet. That does not happen in traditional microtransactions, which give players a clear indication of what they are buying.
The commission stated that this puts players, especially minors, at risk, and in accordance with Belgian law, the Gaming Commission must approve and provide a license before creative studios can include such bets in their games.
This seems to show that playing in the game depends on chance, the report explains. This seems to be the case in Star Wars Battlefront II, but probably does not apply to Overwatch, which was also under investigation. In the latter, the award-winning items through this system are purely cosmetic, and offer no game advantage.
Electronic Arts had already been criticized by fans for the system that it implemented years ago in Battlefront II, which uses booties as a way to gain items needed to improve fighting strength and other skills. The game also originally had Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader locked behind a paywall In the game, he would have required up to forty hours of normal play to win only one character, unless he paid for them with real money. However, the reaction of his followers caused the required credits to be reduced.
As for the most recent bill, we will keep you informed with its development and what implications it could have for players and for companies in the world of videogames.