The UK ministerial Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) released the results of their investigation into loot boxes and announced that the UK government does not intend to regulate the practice. The report cited the possibility of unintended consequences of government interference, ongoing research, and industry self-policing as reasons for not introducing regulatory legislation.
In 2020, the DCMS called for a gathering of evidence on the effect of loot boxes, in order to explore regulation and/or government policy on the matter. The gathered evidence includes a player survey of over 32,000 responses, 50 submissions from the games industry, researchers and third-party organizations, as well as a independent rapid evidence assessment conducted by the Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise (InGame). You can read the DCMS’ report and the evidence assessment from InGame on the UK government’s website.
The report says that “The call for evidence has found an association between loot boxes and harms, but we have not found whether there is a causative link.” The report states that the research is as yet incomplete and that “it is difficult to disaggregate which loot box implementations may be particularly problematic.” The call for evidence was developed alongside a review of the Gambling Act, but that piece of legislation will not be updated at this time.
The DCMS did announce plans for more research and government action. Most concretely, the report suggests policies that video game developers and publishers should implement. The report states, “our view is that children and young people should not be able to purchase loot boxes without parental approval.” Players should also have access to transparent information and spending controls. The DMCA will establish a technical working group to assist video game companies in self-regulation and launch a new Video Games Research Framework to enable further findings. If the industry does not self regulate, the DMCA promises that “we will not hesitate to consider legislative change.”