Video Game Monetization (e.g., ‘Loot Boxes’): a Blueprint for Practical Social Responsibility Measures

Daniel L. King, Paul H. Delfabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Video games are becoming increasingly monetized with the addition of in-game purchasing options, which has prompted some comparisons of these products to electronic gaming machines. The expansion and sophistication of ‘microtransaction’ options in online games (e.g., ‘loot boxes’) has also led to concerns about vulnerable users (e.g., adolescents) overspending on these schemes. Currently, there are limited regulatory and/or consumer protection frameworks for video game monetization schemes. This conceptual paper explores some potential social responsibility measures for monetized gaming products to stimulate further discussion and developments in this area. Loot boxes are a focus of this discussion given the current debate on their legality, i.e., similarity to electronic gambling machines. Drawing on social responsibility principles and research in the field of gambling studies, we outline some potential measures in the areas of: (1) game design and in-game purchasing system characteristics, (2) transparency and accuracy of game design and features, (3) broad consumer protection measures, and (4) consumer information and industry accountability. It is hoped that this paper will encourage further discussion among academics, regulators, and the industry. An empirical evidence base is needed to inform the design and implementation of countermeasures for monetization schemes that increase risk of gaming-related harm for some users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-179
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Volume17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Loot box
  • Microtransaction
  • Predatory monetization
  • Social responsibility: consumer protection
  • Video game

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