Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee is taking a stand against what he calls “the spread of predatory practices in online gaming.”
As mentioned in an announcement specifically about EA and Star Wars Battlefront II, Lee and others are currently “looking at legislation” in the upcoming year that could prohibit the sale of games to players that are under 21 years of age, and possibly even restrict the inclusion of gambling elements, which Lee believes are present in Star Wars Battlefront II via the game’s loot boxes.
Lee and his team have also been in conversations with other legislators who are examining similar options for their own states in an effort to curb what he describes as “predatory behavior” on the part of game publishers.
Concerned with the impact these games could have on players under the age of 21, and citing the significant financial impact that gambling addiction can have on families, Lee said, “This game is a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money.”
Lee also addresses the condition of young players in gaming environments where loot boxes can be purchased, stating lack of emotional and psychological maturity is the reason gambling is illegal for persons under age 21. He said he feels now is the appropriate time for these issues to be addressed “before this becomes the new norm for every game.”
“These kinds of lootboxes and microtransactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are so designed,” he said in a Reddit post following up on the announcement video.
“We have been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue” Lee said. “Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.”
Just as Battlefront II launched, EA announced it would be temporarily taking microtransactions in the game offline. Developer DICE said the option would return, but that the developer would spend the interim working on tweaking and balancing the system.
“We’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right,” the developer said.
Efforts to limit loot box usage are happening throughout the world, as Belgium’s Gaming Commission is seeking to have loot crates banned in Europe.
Recently Playsaurus, the studio behind Clicker Heroes, announced that they were ditching free-to-play for “ethical reasons,” and with EA making changes to the progression systems of both Star Wars Battlefront II and Need for Speed Payback in the wake of player backlash, it seems the discussion may be warranted.
Brian Barnett is an IGN Freelance Writer. You can chat with or follow him on Twitter at @Ribnax.