Games industry takes first step toward lootbox regulation — without the government

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摘要:Above: The NCGP will work with policymakers to help them understand gaming. A handful of gaming industry experts have announced the formation of the National Committee for Games Policy to influence government regulation of the industry. This is a direct response to what the NCGP calls the loot box gambling crisis. The group says it will have a thinktank division (ITK) and a self-regulatory organization (SRO). The thinktank will avoid taking positions on contentious topics like loot boxes and gambling, and it will instead try to provide accurate data to policymakers. The SRO will operate independently from the ITK, and the NCGP claims it will investigate and take legal action against “unscrupulous video game companies” that have “damaged the public consciousness in some way, whether mental or physical.”

Games industry takes first step toward lootbox regulation — without the government-3366NEWS

Above: The NCGP will work with policymakers to help them understand gaming.

Image Credit: U.S. Congress

A handful of gaming industry experts have announced the formation of the National Committee for Games Policy to influence government regulation of the industry. This is a direct response to what the NCGP calls the loot box gambling crisis. The group says it will have a thinktank division (ITK) and a self-regulatory organization (SRO). The thinktank will avoid taking positions on contentious topics like loot boxes and gambling, and it will instead try to provide accurate data to policymakers. The SRO will operate independently from the ITK, and the NCGP claims it will investigate and take legal action against “unscrupulous video game companies” that have “damaged the public consciousness in some way, whether mental or physical.”

The NCGP features a “consumer center” where the public can report video game makers. Many people have loudly protested loot boxes in games like Star Wars: Battlefront II and Need for Speed: Payback, and now they have a group that will listen to their frustrations.

The group is also inviting developers to report employment abuse like unpaid overtime. All complaints go directly to the inbox of NCGP cofounder Kenneth Tran, who is an industry veteran and the head of publisher Incuvation Games. The group has not indicated what kind of legal action it will take, but it will publish a quarterly list of companies it has cited along with the reasoning. The NCGP could convince politicians that they don’t need to pass any formal regulations if it looks like the industry is already working on disciplining its own worst offenders.

“We made this decision in response to the current crisis regarding the expansion of loot crate economies and concerns about unregulated online gambling,” reads the NCGP’s first press release. “Games are not represented or understood in the modern political and judicial world, and that needs to change.”

The NCGP’s thinktank wing is crucial these days as more and more consumers are taking their complaints about loot boxes to government officials. A significant number of gaming fans believe that crates with random digital items are indistinguishable from highly regulated casino gaming like slot machines, and those people have asked the government to step in to put a check on publishers.

Gaming industry business practices change rapidly, and because of the nature of online software, they can shift drastically over time in the same product. We’ve seen that in major releases like Diablo III and more just this past month with Star Wars: Battlefront II. Both of those games changed due to public pressure, and the NCGP could harness that energy in a more official and Washington-adjacent way.

That’s something that could prove useful because many gaming enthusiasts don’t fully understand how the business works, and it is asking a lot of a politician to grasp the intricacies of this space. But that understand is growing increasingly important as games like Battlefront II draw the attention of legislators, and the NCGP wants to fit itself right into the center of those conversation.

As the organization said in its press release, “Where video games, politics, and law intersect, you will be sure to find the NCGP.”

Games industry takes first step toward lootbox regulation — without the government-3366NEWSThe PC Gaming channel is presented by Intel®'s Game Dev program.

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