Democ­rats are call­ing for laws to be put into action that will keep loot box­es away from chil­dren, cit­ing new rules being placed in the Unit­ed King­dom com­ing this September.

The Verge report­ed that Sen. Ed Markey (D‑MA), Rep. Kathy Cas­tor (D‑FL), and Rep. Lori Tra­han (D‑MA) wrote a let­ter to bring the UK’s Age Appro­pri­ate Design Code to the US. The let­ter addressed 12 main­stream game com­pa­nies like Microsoft, Sony, Epic Games, Dis­ney, and Activi­sion Blizzard.

The US Con­gress mem­bers claim in the let­ter that loot box­es are “encour­ag­ing pur­chase before a child knows what the “bun­dle” contains–akin to gam­bling.” This is unlike micro­trans­ac­tions, where the play­er is aware of what is inside the bun­dle before pur­chase. It could take sev­er­al loot box pur­chas­es to obtain an item you’re after. Some games allow play­ers to pre­view the pos­si­ble rewards inside the box. These Con­gress mem­bers believe that games need stricter rules beyond the Enter­tain­ment Soft­ware Rat­ing Board­’s (ESRB) regulations. 

The UK did look into loot box addic­tion of loot box­es in 2019 and 2020 and has since enact­ed changes in the Pan Euro­pean Game Infor­ma­tion (PEGI) guide­lines, but it’s not part of the AADC. This result­ed in the ESRB chang­ing its guid­ance as well, but these Con­gress mem­bers feel it’s sim­ply not enough.

Democ­rats are cit­ing the AADC for some­thing it nev­er refers to. The AADC “is a set of 15 flex­i­ble standards–they do not ban or specif­i­cal­ly prescribe–that pro­vides built-in pro­tec­tion to allow chil­dren to explore, learn, and play online by ensur­ing that the best inter­ests of the child,” accord­ing to the AADC page. It does­n’t direct­ly tar­get loot box­es or microtransactions. 

The AADC push­es for social media sites and pop­u­lar games like Minecraft and Roblox to pre­vent unsa­vory prac­tices on chil­dren until the age of 18. It would pro­vide extra pri­va­cy set­tings and pre­vent usage of unhealthy services.

The US, how­ev­er, already has the Chil­dren’s Online Pri­va­cy Pro­tec­tion Act that pro­tects the pri­va­cy of young chil­dren. This would mean cit­ing the AADC could be seen as way to com­plete­ly ban loot box­es. Con­gress seems to go through this every year, and in ear­ly 2021, law­mak­ers in Chica­go want­ed to ban games like Grand Theft Auto V because of an increase in car­jack­ings.