UK games industry needs to act on loot boxes, says government

UK games industry needs to act on loot boxes, says government

The UK games industry has been told to do more to ensure children can't buy in-game purchases without a parent's permission.

That's according a release on the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in which the arm said that it would be convening a working group to tackle the issue. This will include games firms and platforms, as well as regulatory bodies, who together will come up with a way of reducing the harm kids face from loot boxes.

If the industry is unable to handle the issue, DCMS has said that it will look into legislation. 

This comes in the wake of a call of evidence on loot boxes back in 2020, which DCMS says shows that players who bought loot boxes "may be more likely" to have issues with gambling, mental health and financial problems later in life.

"We want to stop children going on spending sprees online without parental consent, spurred on by in-game purchases like loot-boxes," culture secretary Nadine Dorries said.

"Games companies and platforms need to do more to ensure that controls and age-restrictions are applied so that players are protected from the risk of gambling harms. Children should be free to enjoy gaming safely, whilst giving parents and guardians the peace of mind they need."

In response to the news, the CEO of UK video games trade body UKIE, Dr Jo Twist OBE, said: “As a responsible industry, we have committed to exploring additional ways to support players and parents to build on our existing work developing and raising awareness of parental controls.

“We look forward to engaging closely with the Government and other organisations in the working group and on the Video Games Research Framework.”

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.