UKIE publishes guidance on loot boxes

UKIE publishes guidance on loot boxes Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (

UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) has published new principles to address concerns surrounding loot boxes in video games and provide better protections for players. 

The industry body has published 11 principles in total, developed by the Technical Working Group convened by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). These principles aim to ensure that loot boxes are used responsibly and transparently within video games.

John Whittingdale, Minister for the Creative Industries, 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.”

Loot boxes are virtual items in some video games that players can purchase with real money or in-game currency to receive random rewards, which some believe amounts to gambling. There have been growing concerns about the potential harm they can cause, particularly to children and young players.

The UK government, in its response to the call for evidence on loot boxes, emphasised the need for improved protections and called for restricted access to loot boxes for minors, with parental consent.

The 11 principles have been carefully designed by the Technical Working Group, which includes representatives from across the video games industry. The group engaged with various stakeholders – including government authorities, academics, advocacy groups, and consumers – to ensure a collaborative approach to player protection and transparency.

The key objectives of these principles are twofold: first, to make sure that loot boxes are not readily available to children without the knowledge and consent of a parent or guardian, and second, to provide all players with spending controls and clear information about loot box mechanics.

Some of the key principles include:

  1. Implementing technological controls to prevent anyone under 18 from acquiring loot boxes without parental consent.
  2. Creating awareness of these controls among players, parents, and guardians through regular communications and a targeted public information campaign.
  3. Forming an expert panel on age assurance in the gaming industry to develop best practices and engage with regulators, policymakers, and players.
  4. Disclosing the presence of loot boxes before purchase, along with clear probability disclosures about virtual item rewards.
  5. Designing loot boxes in a way that promotes fair and responsible play and is easily understandable to players.
  6. Supporting the Video Games Research Framework to foster data-driven research into gaming while respecting data privacy and confidentiality.

Ukie’s commitment to protecting players extends to combating unauthorised external sales of loot box items for real money, providing lenient refund policies for accidental purchases, and advancing protections for all players through information campaigns and continuous engagement with stakeholders.

To kickstart this initiative, Ukie plans to launch a £1 million, three-year public information campaign featuring popular broadcaster Judi Love. The campaign will focus on educating parents about parental controls to manage in-game purchases, screen time, online interactions, and access to age-appropriate content.

The 12-month implementation period will be followed by a review of the measures’ effectiveness, with continuous collaboration between Ukie, the UK Government, and other stakeholders to adapt to technological innovations and improve player protections further.

Daniel Wood, Co-CEO of Ukie, commented:

“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.”

By establishing these principles, Ukie sets a positive example for other countries and gaming communities worldwide, showing that responsible gaming practices can be achieved through industry-led initiatives and collaboration with relevant authorities.

(Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash)

See also: Steam won’t distribute games with AI assets (for now)

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