After the recent public relations disaster spawned from EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II leading several countries as well as the state of Hawaii to begin looking into whether the controversial “loot box” can legally be considered gambling, a new group has come forward from within the games industry claiming that they will be taking the helm in self-regulating this feature in future titles. But is it true?
Calling itself the National Committee on Games Policy, their mission statement is to become “the video game industry’s first, and de facto, self regulatory organization”. Formed in response to the calls for legislation regarding loot boxes and other predatory tactics employed by game publishers, the group hopes to avoid such legislation for fear it may not accurately reflect the needs of those who make or play video games, as well as bring legal action against companies who make use of predatory practices in their games.
Despite claiming to be made up of, as they say in their press release, “high level industry experts and influencers”, only a small handful of members have decided to take their involvement with the committee public. The NCGP claims this is because members’ identities will only be revealed upon giving their permission, with only the eight member “steering committee” having been revealed so far.
Additionally, for a group purporting to be made up of games industry professional, there are quite a few holes in their story. First and foremost is their claim of being the first self-regulatory organization, which would actually be the ESRB. Another comes in the form of Kenneth Tran, the one purported to head the organization, being a self-proclaimed “internet troll”. A more thorough breakdown of the multiple red flags related to the organization is available at Forbes.
Assuming the NCGP is legitimate, the large number of problems seen in the organization pose issues for any change they wish to make. While self-regulation may work in certain cases (such as the aforementioned ESRB), it could quickly devolve in collusion between companies without true government regulation. Only time will tell how things pan out, both for the NCGP and the games industry as a whole.