ASA’s Loot Box ‘Consultation Phase’ To Close

UK stakeholders have been reminded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that its ‘consultation phase’ seeking evidence on loot box advertising and other in-game transactions will close next week on Thursday 28 January.

Consultation highlighting in-game purchases

Back in November, following issues raised by government ‘select committees’ on aspects of loot boxes, the UK advertising standards body released its consultation highlighting in-game purchases.

ASA acknowledges in its consultation statement that existing issues regarding in-game transactions are beyond the scope of its UK Advertisement Code (CAP Code) with respect to non-broadcast contact requirements.

Main areas in pursuit of guidelines

ASA has identified three main areas in pursuit of guidelines, which it hopes would minimise possible harms to audiences and eliminate disputes for game publishers:

  • Clarity of information at ‘point of purchase
  • Responsibility of advertising messages
  • Truthfulness in advertising of games containing purchasing

The ASA statement read: “Rather than implementing new rules, we think that the issues in question can be suitably addressed through specific formal guidance on existing rules.

“This guidance covers the pricing information at point of purchase, the language and approaches used to advertise in-game purchases (and the games they appear in), and the use of in-game purchased items in ads for games.”

DCMS loot box consultation

The DCMS closed its own loot box consultation last November, collecting information on whether such in-game features could be categorised as gambling commitments.

A select committee on ‘immersive and addictive technologies’ recommended that DCMS reclassify loot boxes as gambling, with new legislation governing in-game transactions being enforced by the government as part of its 2005 Gambling Act review.

Nigel Huddleston, DCMS Sports Secretary, recognised increasing questions regarding loot boxes when releasing the policy document of the Gambling Act.

No ‘knee jerk reaction’

The Minister stressed, however, that there would be no ‘knee jerk reaction’ to the matter, as the study needed to provide a better image of the experiences of young people with loot boxes.

Huddleston called for further evidence as part of the analysis to include a ‘clearer picture of the size of the loot box market in the UK and fully examine any evidence of harms or links to problem gambling.’