New Australian bill would restrict lootboxes to adults

Some countries have already passed laws limiting lootbox distribution in games, and Australia may be the next.

It feels like monetization in games has been a hot button topic for quite a while now, with the initial lootbox controversies having started years ago - and Oblivion's horse armor even further in the past.


Some countries have already moved to legally restrict some practices, like the sale of lootboxes, and Australia might soon join them if a new bill is passed.

Both the authorities and the wider gaming community have been litigating and relitigating lootboxes and their role in games pretty much nonstop since this kind of monetization became common in popular games, but passing laws isn't quite as quick as posting an angry comment online.

While Belgium and the Netherlands moved with surprising speed to put legal limits on lootbox distribution, other governments are still mulling over whether the practice constitutes gambling or not. Lootboxes have faced widespread criticism, viewed by many as exploitative and preying on people with gambling issues.

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Lootboxes have come under scrutiny from players and authorities alike over the years.

Surprisingly for Australia, infamous for unusually strict approach to video game importing and rating, it has moved rather glacially on the matter - but if a new bill introduced by independent Federal politician Andrew Wilkie passes, lootboxes will only be sold to adults in the oceanic nation.

Wilkie first spoke about his intention to introduce such a law a year ago, and now the first draft of the bill can be read on the official website of the Australian government. The gist of it is that, if passed, games with lootboxes would be rated as 18+ or "Refused Classification" to restrict sales, and all such games would need visible and large callouts on the packaging to warn potential customers about lootbox content.

The politician justified the proposal by saying that lootboxes emulate "many of the same emotions and experiences associated with poker machines and traditional gambling activities" and noted how easily accessible games with lootboxes are to minors. Considering that lootboxes genuinely are basically gambling, you can't really say he doesn't have a point.

Many franchises put different riffs on the lootbox mechanic - none to any acclaim.

While this isn't quite a lootbox ban, it would send a clear message to publishers as games rated 18+ or RC tend to have their sales significantly impacted in Australia, which isn't a small market. Other forms of legal pushback seen worldwide include legislation forcing publishers to disclose drop percentages, and recently the UK government addressed the gaming industry stating it will "get involved" if publishers do not self-regulate.

Lootboxes are a widely despised monetization mechanic that gamers across platforms and fandoms are outspoken critics of, and with good reason. We can only hope that increased legal repercussions will reduce their prevalence in our favorite games.

Arthur Vanauken
I've been a fan of games my entire life, but now, with a young family, one of the things I love the most is being able to play co-ops with my two boys. Having both PlayStation Plus Deluxe and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions help too!
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