The loot box back-and-forth rumbles on, with British health organisation NHS urging game developers to think more carefully about so-called “surprise mechanics” which could lead children into gambling addictions. A strongly worded statement from mental health director Claire Murdoch called for a crackdown on loot boxes in games kids play, as the NHS prepares to open 14 new gambling clinics across the UK.
Murdoch said: “Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes, those sales should end. Young people's health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children's well being.”
It's worth remembering that this issue was escalated to the UK parliament last year, when representatives from Epic and EA were tasked with fielding questions from politicians about how loot boxes are implemented in Fortnite and FIFA respectively. It’s clearly an issue that’s going to rumble on, as publishers push back on government interference against a very lucrative business model.