The Children’s commissioner of England has published a report that is pushing for great regulations for online games including classifying loot boxes as gambling and proposing a daily spending limit for children across all games that feature microtransactions including Fortnite.
The report titled “Gaming the System” was conducted by interviewing children aged 10 and 16 asking them what they liked, disliked and what could be improved about gaming in general. According to the report, there’s a lot of social benefits for kids who are into gaming but it also reported on issues of bullying and the pressure a video game puts on children to spend money on in-game items such as Fortnite skins and other cosmetics attachments.
The report claims children were embarrassed if they could not afford new skins in Fortnite and bullied if they did not own the specific items. “If you’re a default skin, people think you’re trash” claimed one 10-year-old player as friends and “influencers” put pressure on kids to own the best items only available through loot boxes.
“The amount of money children spend on games varies. In some cases, the amount of money children report spending on games has increased annually, with some spending over £300 in one year. Peer pressure from friends and online strangers, as well as influence from famous gaming YouTubers, are all factors that children say lead to them feeling pressured to spend money on in-game purchases.”
The report recommends that children’s online lives should be governed by the same rules as their offline lives. If they are not allowed to gamble in real life, they should not be allowed to spend money on loot boxes in video games. The report claims gambling laws need to be updated to reflect online gaming scenarios and that developers should limit microtransactions. A large emphasis on a daily spending limit was put forward too.
The report goes into more detail about the current situation in gaming especially when children are involved. It explains that companies should share data about average playtime with researchers so that reports can be compiled into the effects of playing games excessively.
You can read more about the loot boxes and the Children’s Commissioner of England report by visiting the commission’s report page.