England’s top mental health nurse wants game publishers to restrict microtransaction sales to children because of its possible relation to gambling.
Claire Murdoch, National Health Service England’s mental health director, released a report that calls for “fair and realistic spending limits” on loot boxes and for gaming publishers to give consumers a “percentage chance they have of obtaining the items they want before they purchase.”
The report also called for some serious reckoning on behalf of the video game industry, calling for “the gaming industry to face up to responsibilities to protect players from potential harms” and “an industry levy to support independent research on long-term effects of gaming.”
“Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes,” Murdoch said. “No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. senator introduces a bill to ban microtransaction sales to children.
The report from Murdoch wants gaming companies to do more about restricting younger players from playing games with a rating outside of their age range. It also mentions that half of U.K. parents let their children play a game with a mature rating without having seen any of the game themselves, and that there have been cases of children purchasing microtransactions without their parents’ knowledge.
This comes about three months after NHS opened a clinic for gaming addiction and less than a year after the World Health Organization announced that Gaming Disorder will be classified as a disease in 2022.
Up to 15 new gambling clinics will be available in England to address people aged 13-25 who are struggling with mental health addiction in topics related to social media and video games.
“Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing,” Murdoch said.
WHO announced plans in 2018 to make the first update in 26 years to the compendium of diseases so they can list “gaming disorder” and “hazardous gaming.” In August 2019, it was announced that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft will work on new policies surrounding microtransactions.
Petey Oneto is a freelance writer for IGN.
Source: IGN.com England's Top Mental Health Nurse: Games Push Kids to Gamble