Ukie has today published 11 Industry Principles surrounding Loot Boxes in video games, as recommended by the Technical Working Group. The Technical Working Group was convened by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to develop these industry principles.
Loot boxes are a feature in some video games which players can purchase with real money, or acquire with virtual currency, to receive random items. In the Government’s response to the call for evidence, it called for improved protections for children, young people and adults following concerns raised about loot boxes. It set out its view that the purchase of Loot Boxes should be unavailable to children unless enabled by a parent or guardian, and that all players should have access to spending controls and transparent information to support safe gameplay. The 11 new Industry Principles on Loot Boxes are designed to meet these two key objectives detailed in the Government response.
The Technical Working Group, which included representatives from across the video games industry, has designed these Principles following extensive engagement with DCMS, other government authorities, academics, third party advocacy groups and consumer groups, to reflect the fact that increasing player protections and transparency is a shared responsibility across the entire video games sector.
Minister for the Creative Industries, John Whittingdale said:
"We've been clear the video games industry needs to do more to protect children and adults from the harms associated with loot boxes. These new principles are a big step forward to make sure players can enjoy video games responsibly and safely. I look forward to seeing games companies put the plans into action and will be watching their progress closely.”
Ukie Co-CEO, Daniel Wood said:
“Publishing these shared Principles for how the industry approaches loot boxes is a UK first and provides us with a clear direction moving forwards. The Principles will improve protections for all players and underlines the industry’s commitment to safe and responsible play. We look forward to working collaboratively across industry and with others to implement them over the coming months.”
The Industry Principles are:
One of the first industry measures will be to launch a £1 million, three-year public information campaign to raise awareness of player controls featuring the popular broadcaster Judi Love. Beginning in July to coincide with the start of the summer holidays, the latest campaign will support and guide parents on how to use parental controls that help manage in-game purchases including loot boxes, screen time, online interactions, and access to age-appropriate content.
The main objectives of the Technical Working Group were to pursue enhanced industry-led solutions to restrict the ability for under 18s to purchase a loot box unless first approved by a parent, carer, or guardian, and provide all players with access to and greater awareness of spending controls and provide transparent information in order to support safe and responsible play.
The Government published a response to the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games in July 2022: Government response to the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/loot-boxes-in-video-games-call-for-evidence/outcome/government-response-to-the-call-for-evidence-on-loot-boxes-in-video-games
The Government has published an update today on improvements to industry-led protections: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/loot-boxes-in-video-games-update-on-improvements-to-industry-led-protections
The Technical Working Group was comprised of representatives from major international platforms as well as International and UK-based publishers and developers.
The Technical Working Group met eight times over a period of 10 months, from September 2022 to June 2023. To support this work, DCMS and the Games Ratings Authority convened a Players and Parents Panel which met three times between December 2022 and March 2023 to facilitate feedback on the industry-led proposals with regards to loot boxes. In addition, DCMS facilitated engagement with academics, consumer groups, and regulators including the CMA and ICO, to provide feedback to Ukie on its draft guidance.