Hawley's Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act would prohibit games geared toward children from implementing features that prompt users to pay real-world money to advance in the game, called "pay-to-win" or receive rewards at random for a fee, called "loot boxes".
While this might seem a good idea, these features have been part of a significant number of blockbuster games over the last few years and could result in some leading titles being taken off the shelves.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be tasked with enforcing the ban, and state attorneys general would also be empowered to file lawsuits against companies who violated the rules.
"Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids' attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits", Hawley said.
"No matter this business model's advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices.".
The Entertainment Software Association put out a statement rejecting Hawley's proposal. The acting president and CEO of the video game industry trade group, Stanley Pierre-Louis, pointed out that "numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling".
"We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents' hands," Pierre-Louis said.
"Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls."
Hawley has become the Republican Party’s tech critic lately and been slamming tech giants' enormous market power and alleged exploitation of customers. At a Hoover Institution event last week, Hawley criticised tech companies for encouraging users to become addicted to their products.
"Users' attention is bought by the tech giants and then immediately sold to advertisers, for the highest price of course… Social media only works as a business model if it consumes users' time and attention day after day after day."