The UK Government has called for an examination on the impacts of loot boxes in video games due to concerns it may ‘encourage or lead to problem gambling’.

Due to the recent nationwide lockdown and further local restrictions being implemented, people are spending an increasing amount of time online. As the industry, gaming habits, and the technology that supports loot boxes continue to evolve, the government has called for evidence in an attempt to aid it to understand people’s positive and negative experiences of loot boxes in video games.

The government confirmed it will seek experiences from players and their parents or guardians along with ‘rigorous, high quality data and research’ from video games companies, academia, civil society and other organisations with an interest in the issue. 

The findings of this research is said to give the government a clearer understanding of the size of the loot box and in-game purchases market in the UK, how it operates, and the impact of current protections such as parental controls and consumer regulations.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Digital and Culture, stated: “Our valued video game industry is making good progress developing safer environments for our children to play in, such as parental controls that can be set to schedule and limit playtime.

“But we’ve listened to parents’ concerns about loot boxes and it’s right that we fully examine and understand any evidence of the harm or links to problem gambling they can cause, so we can decide if action is needed.”

Published on the Government’s official website, it announced plans to undertake further research into the wider impact of video games on behaviour with the The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport set to produce a framework for a programme of research informed by workshops with academia and industry.

Following the results, the government will take steps to address issues highlighted by the DCMS Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies and to protect audiences across the UK.

The video game industry contributed £2.6bn to the economy in 2018, employed 27,000 people in 2019 and has grown more than 16 times faster than the wider UK economy since 2010. 

The call for evidence will be open until November 22 2020.