Today, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) will formally introduce his bill to ban the sale of outdoor boxes to children, and two of his Democratic colleagues have signed up to support the legislation.
Hawley & # 39; s Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act would, if approved, prohibit video game companies from selling loot boxes to children under the age of 18 and making it illegal for disabled games to incorporate pay-to-win mechanisms. If it turns out that a gaming company contains these functions in games that are aimed at minors, this would be financially punished.
It is only a few months since Hawley took office and he has already built up a reputation as a tough critic of American technology companies such as Facebook and Google. With this new legislation, Hawley has two other legislators, Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), linked to what they believe is exploitation in the playroom.
"Only the addiction economy can produce a business model based on giving a casino to every child in America with the goal of desperately getting them addicted," Hawley said. "I am proud to introduce this striking, dual legislation to put an end to these exploitation practices."
Markey has previously worked with Hawley to make changes to the Children & # 39; s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to provide more data privacy protection for minors online. This legislation would create an "eraser button" for parents to remove all their child's data from the related service.
"The digital ecosystem of digital entertainment is an online glove for children," says Markey about the bill for the loot box. "Inherently manipulative game functions that benefit children and turn play time into pay time must be kept out of bounds."
The pressure to regulate loot boxes and pay-to-win mechanisms has continued to increase in recent years. Loot boxes and micro transactions have become prominent features in both mobile games and games created by triple A-studios such as Blizzard and Electronic Arts. This week, Nintendo was forced to play two games that have the characteristics of the Belgian market because they are breaking the rules of the outer box.
"I am proud to sponsor this dual legislation to protect children from predatory gaming apps and to hold bad players responsible for their reprehensible practices," Blumenthal said. "Congress must send a clear warning to app developers and technology companies: children are not cash cows to make a profit."
Note, Sen Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who raised concerns about the outer boxes during a hearing with the Federal Trade Commission last fall, is currently not a co-sponsor of the bill.