ASA issues final reminder on ‘loot box advertising’ consultation 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has reminded UK stakeholders that its ‘consultation phase requiring evidence on ‘advertising of loot boxes and other in-game purchases’ will close next week on Thursday 28 January. 

The UK advertising standards body launched its consultation back in November, following concerns raised by government ‘select committees’ on elements of loot boxes, highlighting in-game purchases.

In its consultation statement, ASA acknowledges that current concerns on in-game purchases fall outside the remit of its UK Code of Advertising (CAP Code) with regards to non-broadcast communication standards.

Seeking guidance, ASA has identified three key areas which it believes will mitigate potential harms for audiences and reduce conflicts for game publishers:

  • Clarity of information at ‘point of purchase
  • Responsibility of advertising messages
  • Truthfulness in advertising of games containing purchasing

“Rather than implementing new rules, we think that the issues in question can be suitably addressed through specific formal guidance on existing rules,” ASA’s statement read.

“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.”

Last November, the DCMS closed its own consultation on loot boxes, gathering evidence on whether certain in-game mechanics could be classified as gambling engagements.

A select committee on ‘immersive and addictive technologies’ had recommended that DCMS reclassify loot boxes as gambling, with the government introducing specific laws regulating in-game purchases as part of its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Publishing the Gambling Act’s policy document, DCMS Sports Secretary, Nigel Huddleston, acknowledged growing concerns on loot boxes.

However, the minister underscored that there would be no ‘knee jerk reaction’ on the matter, as the review needed to provide a clearer picture on ‘young people’s experiences with loot boxes’.

As part of the review, Huddleston called on further evidence to provide a ‘clearer picture of the size of the loot box market in the UK and fully examine any evidence of harms or links to problem gambling’.

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