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UK games industry announces curated loot box guideline

11 principles have been determined, which have been decided to better protect consumers from loot boxes.

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It feels like a day doesn't go by without some kind of loot box controversy. On this very topic, the UK's games and interactive entertainment body, UKIE, has now published a new set of guidelines that have been decided on by a sector of the UK games industry, all in the hopes of better protecting consumers from loot boxes.

The full set of principles spans 11 points, each of which are designed to restrict minors from accessing loot boxes without the consent of adults, and to make it clearer just what loot boxes are and how they work through a new set of public campaigns. In the spirit of this, a £1 million, three-year public information campaign will be launched this month, with this featuring broadcaster Judi Love.

This is also on top of pushing to make loot boxes more transparent, i.e. making it clear what consumers could be purchasing and what their odds of getting the item are.

This set of guidelines have been determined by the Technical Working Group, with this body originally created by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. As for what the 11 principles are, you can see them in full below.

  • Make available technological controls to effectively restrict anyone under the age of 18 from acquiring a Loot Box, without the consent or knowledge of a parent, carer or guardian.

  • Drive awareness of and uptake of technological controls with all players, parents, carers and guardians through regular communications, starting with a targeted public information campaign launching in July.

  • Form an expert panel on age assurance in the games industry. The group will meet regularly to develop and share best practices, stay apprised of technological developments and explore opportunities to develop improved systems, engaging with relevant regulators and policymakers where necessary as well as consulting with players, parents and caregivers and third-party organisations.

  • Disclose the presence of Loot Boxes prior to purchase and download of a game so that players can make informed choices.

  • Give clear probability disclosures, making sure that players can easily access clear and simple information on the probability that they will receive given virtual items or categories of virtual items or other elements in a Loot Box before they acquire or open it. Players should also be informed if their data is used to influence gameplay experiences with Paid Loot Boxes, and given relevant details.

  • Design and present Loot Boxes in a manner that is easily understandable to players, and which promotes fair and responsible play.

  • Support the implementation of the Video Games Research Framework, to facilitate the creation of better quality, data driven research into video games that adheres to the principles of open science while respecting data privacy and confidentiality.

  • Continue to tackle the unauthorised external sale of items acquired from Loot Boxes for real money and continue to invest in IP protection to combat such sales.

  • Commit to lenient refund policies on directly purchased Loot Boxes or purchased in-game currency used to acquire Loot Boxes where spending has occurred without parental consent or knowledge, with clearly displayed contact routes for customer services.

  • Advance protections for all players. Members of the working group are committed to providing all players with information about how to play responsibly and manage their spending effectively on Loot Boxes. The group will continue to engage with third party organisations, players, parents, and academia to benefit from their learnings and experience including any new research developed through the Video Games Research Framework.

  • Work with UK Government and other relevant stakeholders to measure the effectiveness of these principles following a suitable implementation period of 12 months. Members of the working group commit to a periodic review of these measures following their implementation alongside the UK Government in order to assess these measures, assess the effectiveness of public information campaigns and take into account further technological innovation in the sector.

UK games industry announces curated loot box guideline

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