In context: The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act was introduced by Republican Senator Josh Hawley earlier this month, and now has found support from across party lines. With bipartisan support from two Democratic Senators, the bill is gaining traction, much to the ire of game publishers and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
Recently proposed anti-loot box legislation has gained the support of two Democrats in the Senate, with both Senators signing on to co-sponsor the bill. Republican Senator Josh Hawley has sponsored the bill with the aim to ban microtransactions deemed to be exploitative of children in "minor-oriented" games.
Hawley released the full text of the proposal, replete with the names of co-sponsors Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Ed Markey. Of loot boxes, Markey said via gamesindustry.biz that "Today's digital entertainment ecosystem is an online gauntlet for children. Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds."
The bill would ban any type of competitive or otherwise pay-to-win microtransaction, and such transactions would become liable to a fine -- to both publishers and distributors, like Valve and Epic. The bill also has microtransactions aimed at saving time or easing progression in its crosshairs. The bill makes exemptions for things like cosmetics, one-time purchase DLC, and harder difficulty modes.
It’s pretty simple. Video game companies shouldn’t put casinos targeted at kids in their games. Proud of this bipartisan effort https://t.co/32AgK32nUN— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 23, 2019
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation -- of which both Markey and Blumenthal hold seats. Should the proposal rally support there, it will likely be approved on the Senate floor.
Loot boxes and microtransactions have come under considerable scrutiny in recent years. The FTC promised to investigate loot boxes, then subsequently made good on that promise with a public loot box workshop to be held this August.