American Senator Aims To Make Pay2Win Illegal

American Senator Aims To Make Pay2Win Illegal

An american politician has revealed his plan to ‘Protect Children from Abusive Games’ – by introducing legislation that could see publishers and developers punished for trying to dupe kids into purchasing pay-to-win garbage in games.

He wants to use his freakishly large hands to strangle lootboxes to death

Senator Josh Hawley has announced that he aims to introduce legislation banning “manipulative” online game features – claiming they can push children to become addicted to technology. Interestingly enough, his level of understanding regarding the systems in use by gaming companies is refreshingly robust – something that is often lacking when it comes to politics discussing gaming. It may be because he is the youngest serving member of the senate (at age 39) that he is so in touch with the youth; though being a father probably helps.

For the most part, Hawley’s ‘Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act’ would prohibit games from implementing features that prompt the player to pay cash to further the game, much like the Candy Crush ‘tries’ of old. The document also makes it clear that it is quantifying that the game in question must be unmistakably being marketed towards kids, quoting that they will be measured by “subject matter, visual content, and other indicators.”

His document also targets practices that mention mechanics where players “receive rewards at random for a fee” – which is squarely taking aim at lootboxes.

So far there has been pushback from obvious parties, such as The Entertainment Software Association, who claim that the fact that “numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.” is more than enough reason for this bill to wither on the vine.

The entire document is worth a read, but for the time sensitive there is a fantastic short version available online here: Protecting-Children-Abusive-Games-Act_One-Pager.pdf

In fact the document is so concise that I might as well list it’s details here:

The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act

Senator Hawley’s legislation would apply new consumer protections
to games played by minors including:

    • Games targeted at those under the age of 18.
      This would be determined by subject matter, visual content, and other indicators
      similar to those used to determine applicability of the Children’s Online Privacy
      Protection Act (COPPA)
    • Games with wider audiences whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions

In such games, this bill would prohibit several forms of manipulative design:

    • Loot Boxes
      • Microtransactions offering randomized or partially randomized rewards to players
    • Pay-to-Win
      • Manipulation of a game’s progression system – typically by building artificial difficulty
        or other barriers into game progression – to induce players to spend money on
        microtransactions to advance through content supposedly available to them at no
        additional cost
      • Pay-to-win – Manipulation of the competitive balance between players of multiplayer
        games by allowing players who purchase microtransactions competitive advantages
        over other players
    • Enforcement
      • These rules would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, which would treat the distribution of such games by publishers and online distributors as an unfair trade practice.
      • State attorneys general would also be empowered to file suit to defend the residents of their states.

…I absolutely love the use of the words ‘Manipulative Design’ as a simple way to communicate the predatory nature of some of these practices.

It will be interesting to see how this one develops, like all politicians he is far from perfect – but even illuminating the child-unfriendly path of some gaming giants could do a lot for our future.

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games