Last week, the controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront 2's use of loot boxes reached a boiling point, with numerous government entities launching investigations into the matter. In the United States, the most significant step toward loot box regulation came from Hawaii, when Democratic State Representative Chris Lee announced plans to introduce legislation that would effectively ban the sale of loot box video games to minors. Now Hawaii State Representative Sean Quinlan has offered additional insight into Hawaii's stance on loot boxes.
Quinlan, who describes himself as a gamer, says that he realized loot boxes were a serious problem when he saw the Star Wars Battlefront 2 controversy plastered all over Reddit.
"I was on Reddit one morning, and every single post on the front page was about Battlefront. I realized just how bad it has gotten. We’ve been on this path for 15 years with day-one DLC, subscription passes, pay-to-win. We as consumers kept accepting that, kept buying those games. Now we’re at a place where we need to consider, do we need to legislate? Does the ESRB have to consider a new rating that could deal with gambling and addictive mechanics?"
Quinlan hopes the ESRB and the game industry will self-regulate loot boxes, suggesting that restricting loot box video games to those 21 and over may be a necessary step. This could result in the creation of a brand new video game rating that could hugely limit the sales potential of games that use loot boxes.
However, if the game industry refuses to self-regulate the use of loot boxes, Quinlan says that legislation may be introduced. He feels that while loot boxes may not technically fit the definition of gambling, the psychology behind them is "close enough" to justify the government stepping in.
In Hawaii's press conference last week, Quinlan's colleague Chris Lee indicated that the state is looking at introducing loot box legislation on a nationwide scale. It seems as though whether or not this comes to pass largely depends on the video game industry itself. In any case, it will be interesting to see how the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box controversy continues to evolve moving forward.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.