The recent wave of controversy surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions has obviously made a wave for players of Battlefront 2 and games like Overwatch or CS:GO, but Pokemon GO players could also eventually be impacted by proposed legislation to address the problems. The addictive mobile game may not feature loot boxes, but there are plenty of microtransactions and a different variety of randomized prizes that cost real world currency.
Hawaii house bill 2686 has not yet passed, but if it does, it could have some serious impact on gamers, including Pokemon GO players. The consumer protection bill aims to look out for younger gamers by making it unlawful for retailers to sell a game to anyone under 21 if the title contains a purchasable item which allows for direct or indirect randomized reward… Sound like Raid Passes and Incubators to anyone else?
Obviously those items both can be purchases with currency that can be earned in-game as, well, but the wording of this particular legislation makes it sound like Raid Passes and Incubators would still fall into the restricted category.
Keep in mind that this bill still has a long journey ahead before it could go into place, but if it does, it seems very likely that it would impact the Pokemon GO community. Obviously only a small percentage of the game’s playerbase lives in Hawaii, but don’t forget that states very often look to other states to cite justification for new policy and Hawaii could be just the first state to lead this sort of charge.
The debate over microtransactions and randomized for-pay content in games is obviously a complicated one, but it doesn’t seem to be going away. Consumers, and lawmakers, seem to be increasingly losing patience with the trend and the next few years will likely determine whether or not consumer protection laws can stop developers from running with the costly trend.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the bill to follow its progress and post updates. Check back to stay on top of the issue. Until then, good luck out there, trainers!
Pokemon GO is available now is select regions on Android and iOS devices.