UK Government says esports has the potential to develop as an area of ‘real national strength’ in the UK, as it pledges to address ‘key concerns’ around visas and calls for deeper research into loot boxes

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today published the UK Government’s response to the DCMS Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies.

While the report largely focused on loot boxes, in-game spending and gambling-like behaviour (with the DCMS now calling for further evidence into the impact of loot boxes), it also looked at esports too. And its views are largely positive.

In today’s full response, the Government said: “Esports has the potential to develop as an area of real national strength in the UK, building on our world-class video games, entertainment and sports sectors.

“The steep growth in online esports audience figures and the increasing number of esports events and investments in the UK indicate the existence of a solid foundation to build on.”

Encouragingly, the Government also said it plans to help assist the sector more in the future, specifically around visas, which has caused problems for various UK-based esports organisations and companies for several years now.

“To help this burgeoning industry deliver on its potential, the government will continue to develop its relationship with the sector, helping to identify, promote, and exploit the areas that offer the most opportunity to the UK,” the response continued. “This includes examining the ways in which esports can drive innovation and public engagement.

“It will also involve addressing key concerns around issues that include talent working and competing in the UK, access to venues, and ensuring esports can be conducted in a safe and fair manner for competitors and audiences.”

The Government will bring forward plans for a ministerial roundtable with a range of esports stakeholders to ‘discuss the opportunities and barriers to market-driven growth in the UK’ and how the industry is working to encourage best practice in areas such as player wellbeing and esports integrity.

The response also mentioned UK games industry trade body Ukie among others.

The Government was responding to the following request from last year’s report on immersive and addictive technologies: “We ask the DCMS to lay out within the next six months how a similar framework to the duty of care practices enshrined and enforced by the governing bodies of other sports can best be applied within esports.”

On loot boxes, the Government said it’s ‘committed to tackling issues around loot boxes in response to serious concerns about this model for in-game purchasing’.

“A call for evidence on loot boxes will examine links to gambling-like behaviour and excessive spending in games. The findings will provide a solid foundation for future steps and will be considered alongside a review of the Gambling Act,” it continued.

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