U.S. Senator 'Still Concerned' About Loot Boxes Following ESRB Letter

New label, educational effort in the works

The U.S. Senator asking for possible federal investigation into loot boxes tells Glixel that she remains concerned about the impact microtransactions have on children in the wake of today's news that the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) plans to include an "in-game purchases" label to physical and digital video games that include things like loot boxes.

In a statement to Glixel, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) called the ESRB's plan a "step forward," but added she's troubled by the organization's skepticism over the potentially addictive nature of loot boxes.

"The ESRB’s actions today are a step forward in addressing consumers’ concerns about in-game purchases, including loot boxes, and the harmful impact they can have without adequate parental controls and transparency. While today's announcement of the creation of a new 'In-Game Purchases' label and the ESRB's response to my letter are a positive step for parents and consumers, I am still concerned by the ESRB's skepticism regarding the potentially addictive nature of loot boxes and microtransactions in video games. I will work with all relevant stakeholders to continue oversight on these issues and ensure that meaningful improvements are made to increase transparency and consumer protections."

Sen. Hassan wrote a letter to ESRB president Patricia Vance earlier this month asking the board to review its ratings process when it comes to loot boxes and their marketing. She also asked it to conduct a study into the reach and impact of loot boxes in video games.

"The ESRB rating system is of great value to parents across the country, empowering parents to make informed decisions on behalf of their children," she wrote. "As technology advances, ESRB must work to keep pace with new gaming trends, including the in-game microtransactions and predatory gaming tactics, particularly as they are deployed on minors."

The ESRB issued its own response to Sen. Hassan today, which you can read in full below. "We think our response is pretty complete," Vance said. "We encourage an open dialog with her office and hope to work with her in the future."

ESRB Response to Senator Hassan by Brian Crecente on Scribd