The Government response to the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games has been published on www.gov.uk.
The Government are committed to ensuring that the UK is one of the safest places to be online, and this includes video games. We want all players, especially children and vulnerable people, to have the tools and information they need to enjoy games safely.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a call for evidence on loot boxes in video games in September 2020, in light of concerns about the potential for loot boxes to cause harm.
The call for evidence received over 32,000 responses to a player survey, and 50 submissions from organisations and individuals. We are thankful to the organisations and individuals, including players and parents, who responded to the call for evidence. In addition, the Government commissioned an independent rapid evidence assessment of academic literature on loot boxes, which was conducted by InGAME in 2021.
The Government response sets out findings from the call for evidence. The call for evidence identified a range of potential harms associated with the purchase of loot boxes, though a causal relationship is yet to be evidenced. This includes harms which have been associated with gambling, but also a range of other potential mental health, financial and problem gaming related harms. The evidence suggests that the risks of harm are likely to be higher for children.
In response to the findings from the call for evidence, the Government want to see improved protections for children and adults with regards to loot boxes, and better longer term research into the impacts of video games. The Government’s view is that:
purchases of loot boxes should be unavailable to all children and young people unless and until they are enabled by a parent or guardian;
all players, including children, young people and adults, should have access to and be aware of spending controls and transparent information to support safe and responsible gaming; and
better evidence and research, enabled by improved access to data, should be developed on the positive and negative impacts of video games to inform future policy making on loot boxes and video games more broadly.
DCMS will convene a technical working group to pursue enhanced industry-led solutions to mitigate the risk of harms for children and young people and adults from loot boxes in video games. In addition, we will work with academics and other partners to launch a video games research framework.
The Government response have been developed alongside our review of the Gambling Act. We will continue to keep the position set out in the Government response under review, considering any new and emerging evidence on loot boxes and harms, progress made in strengthening industry-led protections, and any specific proposals on how statutory protections could be enhanced. We will not hesitate to consider legislative options if we deem this necessary to protect children and adults.
I will be placing a copy of the Government response to the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses, and this response has been published on www.gov.uk. The rapid evidence assessment of academic literature on loot boxes, conducted by InGAME, has also been published on www.gov.uk.