That cultural secretary has urged video game companies to do more to ensure children cannot make in-game purchases known as loot boxes.
Nadine Dorries Demands that children and youth cannot purchase loot boxes unless they are approved by a parent or legal guardian.
A call for evidence on loot boxes was launched in 2020 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
It turns out that players who bought loot boxes are more likely to experience gambling, mental health, and financial damage. The risk can also be higher in children and adolescents.
prey Boxes are a type of in-game purchase in some video games. Players can purchase a loot box with real money to receive random items, including “power-ups” that help a player do better in the game, and “cosmetic” items like virtual clothes.
Some gaming platforms like Xbox have already taken steps to increase protections, including options that require parental permission for children under 18 to spend in games.
That government has said it will build on this to create stronger protections for children across the gaming industry, adding that legislation may be considered if companies don’t do enough.
Ms Dorries said: “We want to prevent children from spending money online without parental consent, spurred on by in-game purchases such as loot boxes.
“Gaming companies and platforms need to do more to ensure controls and age restrictions are in place to protect players from the risk of gambling harm.
“Children should have the freedom to play safely while parents and guardians provide the security they need.”
DCMS is putting together a new working group consisting of companies, platforms and regulators to develop measures to reduce the risk of harm to players.
This includes measures such as parental controls and ensuring that all players have transparent, accessible information.
The Call for Evidence also identified a need for better evidence to improve understanding of the positive and negative effects of video games, with plans in place to launch a new video game research framework to support this.
DR Richard WilsonChief Executive of the UK Games Industry Trade Association, TIGA, said: “TIGA believes that games companies should aim to ensure that games are safe for all players to use.
“In 2020, TIGA formally adopted its Five Principles for Protecting Gamers, which aim to embody the spirit of the approach that games companies should take when operating their businesses in the UK.
“Children and young people should not be able to purchase ‘loot boxes’ in video games without parental consent.
“TIGA also believes there is a need to protect vulnerable adults from potential harm from loot boxes.
“TIGA looks forward to contributing to the DCMS’ planned working group to advance measures to protect players from potential harm.”