What do you think the effects of the recently proposed loot box bill passing would be?
If the bill passed, it would probably open the door to a host of lawsuits that would probably change the nature of the industry to its very core. However, it seems very unlikely that the bill would pass as written because it is written in a super vague way, depending on terms like what a “reasonable person” would accept, rather than explicitly defining terms. There’s a pretty decent breakdown by a lawyer in this video (caution: length) about where the bill’s legal language is just bad:
Here are some of the more salient points from the podcast about the definition of terms and how they could be abused based on the legal language:
- A game is something that a reasonable person would say is a game. What does this even mean? Is Gone Home a game then? Cookie Clicker? Minecraft? Second Life? Bandersnatch on Netflix?
- Games that would be regulated by this are games targeting minors, or games that have minors who play them. This means that even an adults-only or mature game would fall under this law, as long as even one minor is found to have played it.
- Any paid microtransaction that unlocks a feature or “enhances the entertainment value of the product” is considered “pay to win”. Which makes that super broad, because it makes no sense as to why anyone would spend money on something that doesn’t unlock a feature and doesn’t enhance the entertainment value of the product.
- It’s a pay-to-win transaction if the content assists the user to accomplish anything in the game. That mean things like DLC characters, weapons, anything that a player might do better with – would all be considered pay to win.
I have spoken to a few lawyers about this, and the general consensus is that the bill isn’t actually intended to be an actual law with any chance to be passed but a conversation starter about what theoretical legislation should actually entail. In that respect, it’s somewhat similar to the proposed Green New Deal – passing it was never the purpose of the bill, because “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification“ (page 8, line 4) is probably not even physically possible. However, like the Green New Deal, the Loot Box bill does start a conversation that may lead to actual, reasonable regulation. For now, we’ll have to wait and see how it unfolds.[Join us on Discord]
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