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Mobile Monday: Senator Proposes to Ban Loot Boxes, Study Reveals 65% of Adults Are Gamers

Posted May 13, 2019

A U.S. Senator has announced his plans to propose a bill that would ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions. We’ll look at the details of this bill and how other countries have addressed these issues. Meanwhile, we recap the Entertainment Software Association’s comprehensive study on American video game players’ habits. Read all about it in this week’s Mobile Monday!

Gaming Industry Under Pressure From Legislators
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, announced plans to introduce a bill in order to ban the exploitation of children through monetization practices by the video game industry. The legislation is titled “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act” and Hawley says that game developers are monetizing addiction and should be facing legal consequences for exposing this to young players. In his press materials, he cites pay-to-win microtransactions and loot boxes as the most “abusive practices” and likens them to forms of gambling.

This is not the first time a politician has spoken out against monetization practices in gaming. New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan has been very vocal about the issue, which prompted the Federal Trade Commission to confirm that an investigation of loot boxes will be underway. Other countries have already addressed loot boxes in their legislation. Belgium’s gaming commission ruled that some monetization tactics were in violation of gambling legislation. Gaming company Square Enix then pulled three mobile games from the country after the introduction of the law last year.

Naturally, not everyone in the industry is ready to give in to the pressure from the proposed bill. The Entertainment Software Association, a top video game industry lobbyist group, released a statement pointing out that countries including Ireland, Germany, and Australia had determined that loot boxes did not constitute gambling. The organization also offered to share resources and tools that help parents control in-gaming spending by children.

In his statement, Hawley specifically calls out Candy Crush as an example of pay-to-win microtransactions because of its $150 “Luscious Bundle” that offers in-game currency and 24 hours of unlimited lives. If this bill gets passed, this could mean significant consequences for mobile games and their revenue.

American Gamers Prefer Playing On Smartphones
The Entertainment Software Association released their 2019 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, a comprehensive study on video game playing habits and attitudes. The annual report features data from more than 4,000 Americans and gives more insight into the widening audience of video games.

According to the report, approximately 65% of adults or more than 164 million Americans play video games. Female gamers are a growing portion of that at 46%, while the average age of all gamers is 33. The most common devices used for games is a smartphone at 60%, topping computers (52%), and game consoles (49%).

The study delves into gaming habits of three adult age groups: Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers. The majority of male Millennials prefer playing games on a console, while females prefer to play on their smartphones with Candy Crush listed as one of their favorites. Both male and female Gen Xers indicated that they most often play games on their smartphones. Male Baby Boomers prefer playing games on their PC, while female Boomers prefer mobile gaming with Mahjong and Monopoly listed as favorites.

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