Consulting on new guidance on ads for 'loot boxes' and other in-game purchases

We have published a consultation on proposals to introduce new formal guidance on advertising in-game purchases, including the random-item purchases commonly known as ‘loot boxes’.

What are in-game purchases? Within modern video games and apps, it is common to be able to make purchases within the game, whether directly or through an external platform. These purchases may range from very small and low value, such as an item that boosts performance or skips waiting times, to relatively large and high value, such as an expansion pack or bundle of currency.

We understand that concerns have been raised by the public, the video game press, campaign and research organisations, and by Government Select Committees about elements of in-game purchasing. Although some of these concerns fall outside of the scope of advertising regulation, we have identified three areas in which formal guidance may help to mitigate the potential harms identified by concerned parties.

Rather than implementing new rules, we think that the issues in question can be suitably addressed through specific formal guidance on existing rules. This guidance covers the pricing information at point of purchase, the language and approaches used to advertise in-game purchases (and the games they appear in), and the use of in-game purchased items in ads for games.

We welcome consultation responses from a wide range of stakeholders. This consultation presents the proposed guidance for comment, with this document explaining the background to each section.

The consultation will close at 5pm on 28 January 2021. For more information on how to respond, please see the consultation document.  

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