I am today launching a call for evidence on loot boxes in video games. I want to understand fully the existing research and concerns around loot boxes including any evidence of links to gambling-like behaviour and problem gambling amongst young people. This fulfils a commitment the government announced on 8 June as part of its response to the DCMS Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies.
The government takes concerns around potential harms from loot boxes seriously. This open call for evidence will seek detailed information on the impact of loot boxes on players, particularly children and young people, examining concerns that loot boxes may encourage gambling-like behaviour and lead to problem gambling, as well as examining the size and scale of the loot box market in the UK, and the impact of current voluntary and statutory protections. The call for evidence will also seek information on the direct experiences of video games players and adults responsible for children and young people who play video games.
In 2019, the government committed to review the Gambling Act with a particular focus on tackling issues around online loot boxes. The results from the call for evidence will be considered alongside the review of the Gambling Act and will inform future actions in regard to loot boxes. The government stands ready to take action should the outcomes of the call for evidence support taking a new approach to ensure users, and particularly young people, are better protected.
The government continues to support the growth of the video games sector in the UK, recognising that video games bring great economic, cultural and social benefits. Over half the UK population plays games, the vast majority engaging safely with content that allows them to enjoy fun, exciting play, find moments of relaxation, socialise and learn new skills. The video games sector, a key part of the UK’s world-leading creative industries, is also a cutting edge creator and adopter of innovative new technologies, and a provider of highly skilled creative jobs.
However, evolving digital technologies such as video games also present new responsibilities to ensure that users - particularly children and vulnerable people - are not exposed to harm.
I believe the call for evidence the government is launching today is an important step towards gathering the evidence required to ensure we can support the further growth of this innovative and important industry while protecting users.
The call for evidence document will be available on gov.uk.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords