Opening the compliance and enforcement loot box: A retrospective on some practice and policy impacts achieved through academic research

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Abstract

Loot boxes are gambling-like products in video games that can be purchased with real-world money to obtain random rewards. Regulations have been imposed in some jurisdictions to attempt to address potential harms. Two recent policy studies assessed companies’ compliance (but more often, non-compliance) with those regulations. The first study found that a supposed ‘ban’ on loot boxes in Belgium was not enforced so the product remained widely accessible. A preprint reporting this was widely publicised by the media. This enhanced awareness led to companies newly complying with the law and helped policymakers to view the practicality of banning loot boxes with more due scepticism. Researchers should consider actively sharing non-peer-reviewed preprint results to protect consumers more promptly. The second study found that, contrary to regulations, many games with loot boxes were not labelled. Subsequent engagement with the media and the industry self-regulators caused remedial actions to be taken: unlabelled games have since been correctly labelled, and non-compliant companies have been punished with (albeit insignificant) fines. The societal impacts of loot box policy studies demonstrate the importance of actively communicating research results to the public through media engagement and challenging companies and regulators when they are not complying with or enforcing regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100018
JournalSocietal Impact
Volume1
Issue number1–2
ISSN2949-6977
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023

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