FTC to Hold August Workshop on Consumer Issues Related to Loot Boxes

The Federal Trade Commission will hold a public workshop on August 7, 2019 to examine consumer protection issues related to video game “loot boxes”—in-game rewards players can buy while playing a video game.

The workshop, “Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes,” will bring together a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, consumer advocates, trade associations, academics, and government officials to discuss concerns regarding the marketing and use of loot boxes and other in-game purchases, and the potential behavioral impact of these virtual rewards on young consumers.

Loot boxes are in-game rewards that contain a random assortment of virtual items (“loot”) to assist a player in advancing in the online game or to customize his or her game avatar. Players buy loot boxes using virtual currency that they may earn within the game or purchase with real money. Loot boxes have produced a growing revenue stream for game developers. At the same time, concerns have been raised about techniques used to market loot boxes and whether minors are becoming addicted to these in-game purchases.

Topics this workshop will cover include:

  • The in-game transaction landscape, including the origins and evolution of loot boxes and their role in game play and the digital marketplace;
  • Research examining consumer behavior, including child and adolescent behavior, in the context of video games and digital transactions; and
  • A discussion of consumer awareness and education about in-game digital transactions, including the mechanics, marketing, and financial commitments associated with loot boxes.

FTC staff seeks public input in advance of the workshop, including possible discussion topics and potential participants. The public can submit suggestions for potential workshop topics and participants through June 7, 2019, via email at lootboxworkshop@ftc.gov.

FTC staff also welcomes written comments on the issues discussed at the workshop. Public comments should be submitted online by 11:59 pm ET on October 11, 2019. If you prefer to file a written comment on paper, write “Video Game Loot Box Workshop” on your comment and on the envelope and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20024.

The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be at the Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, D.C., and will be webcast live on the FTC’s website. The agenda, directions to the Constitution Center building, and a list of speakers will be available in the future on the event webpage.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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