The problem isn't loot boxes; it's whale hunting

I’m not very optimistic that the right regulation will come out of this whole loot box controversy. For one thing, it’s very hard to write a law that prevents evil loot boxes while not preventing similar things that aren’t evil. But even if you solve that - loot boxes aren’t the real problem.

The real problem is the reliance on “whales” to monetize games. This causes games to be designed to be bottomless money pits to exploit vulnerable users. Loot boxes are just the current favorite way to build a money pit; there are many other strategies and if we block loot boxes designers will pivot to those other strategies.

If we wanted to actually solve this through regulation, we need to start from “How do we prevent whale hunting?” rather than “How do we prevent loot boxes?” I don’t know how to write either one of these laws, but even if we figure out a really great loot box law, we’re treating a single symptom rather than curing the disease.