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Australian Senate backs loot box investigation

Australia's Senate has passed a motion to investigate the use of loot boxes in videogames. The Environment and Communications References Committee will lead the probe, and will report back in September. 

As reported by MSN, Senator Jordon Steele-John of the Australia Greens party submitted the notice of motion earlier this week. It was supported by the entire Senate, says MSN, which means the issue will not be debated—nor will it require a Senate-wide vote. 

Kotaku Australia acquired a copy of the motion, and it highlights the following concerns: 

The extent to which gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items, sometimes referred to as 'loot boxes', may be harmful, with particular reference to:

(a) whether the purchase of chance-based items, combined with the ability to monetise these items on third-party platforms, constitutes a form of gambling, and;

(b) the adequacy of the current consumer protection and regulatory framework for in-game micro transactions for chance-based items, including international comparisons, age requirements and disclosure of odds.

Image credit: Parliament of Australia website

"I have significant concerns about the adequacy of current consumer protection and regulatory frameworks for monetised game mechanics, particularly when we know they are accessible to children," said Steele-John in a statement ahead of the Senate hearing. "An incredible number of popular big name titles incorporate these kinds of monetised game mechanics, not as a way of improving in-game experience, but as a way of simply prying more money off of their players."

"The impact of gambling on people’s lives is such that we cannot afford to stay silent on this issue, and it is fantastic both the government and the opposition are supporting the Greens on this issue."

As highlighted in the screenshot above, sourced from the Australian Government website, Australia's Environment and Communications References Committee is due to report back on September 17, 2018. 

This move follows the Netherlands and Belgium's recent loot box interventions. For further reading, check out Sam Horti's thoughts on how the loot box controversy shaped gaming in 2017