In an interview with Glixel, one of the legislators responsible for last week’s press conference confirming the state of Hawaii is investigating the legality of lootboxes was asked about regulation.
“The fear when you introduce government legislation into private enterprise is that we are going to overreach,” State Representative Sean Quinlan told Glixel. “That is my fear. Ultimately, it’s best for the industry to self-police.” But Quinlan does not expect this to be especially likely.
“I know they have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, but I think they have a responsibility to customers too,” Quinlan says. “So the ESRB could say that if a game has loot crates, it gets a 21-plus rating. I wouldn’t want it to be a federal law. I think that could be a very slippery slope.”
Quinlan, who describes himself as a gamer, found out about the problem by checking the front page of Reddit.
“It’s the front page of the Internet right?” Quinlan explained. “I was on Reddit one morning, and every single post on the front page was about Battlefront. I realized just how bad it has gotten. We’ve been on this path for 15 years with day-one DLC, subscription passes, pay-to-win. We as consumers kept accepting that, kept buying those games. Now we’re at a place where we need to consider, do we need to legislate? Does the ESRB have to consider a new rating that could deal with gambling and addictive mechanics?”
Quinlan has an uphill climb, as the definition of gambling may not include lootboxes, and it is ultimately up to personal interpretation. This makes legislation, or at least sounding the alarm bells, particularly difficult, but Quinlan is hoping for something to be done.
“I think the mechanism is so close to gambling, when we talk about psychology and the way addiction and reward works, I think whether or not it means the strict definition of gambling, it’s close enough and the impact is close enough,” he told Glixel.