In the world of video games, loot boxes have become a very controversial subject of late. Many have even criticized games for including gambling with these boxes, even though the games can be played by those who are not old enough to legally gamble. However, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), who is responsible for regulating gaming here in the USA, recently determined that loot boxes are not gambling.
What are Loot Boxes?
A loot box is an in-game box that contains randomly generated items for the game. Players can win some very high-value items, if luck is on their side. Many games that were free-to-play, used these to make money, charging players small amounts of money to purchase a box. However, recently full-priced games have started including loot boxes.
The biggest recent offenders are Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront 2, despite both games costing $60 or more to purchase. Both of these games allow players to have a better chance to get much better items if they spend money on purchasing loot boxes. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 could even give players a significant advantage in-game thanks to the system, leading some people to call the game pay-to-win.
Loot Boxes Not Real Gambling
While many have become very angry about these loot boxes in game, going as far as calling it gambling, the ESRB disagrees. The ESRB recently came out and said loot boxes are not gambling, although there is an element of chance with the system. However, players are always going to receive some in-game content when they open a box, even if it is not what they want. The ESRB also compared the system to collectable card games. Here, players would buy a pack of cards, hoping to get the cards they wanted. Sometimes, they would get lucky, other times they’d get bad cards, or ones they already had.
Unfortunately for gamers who are against the loot box system, Europe’s counterpart to the ESRB agreed with its findings and has ruled they are not gambling. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this story going forward because there are plenty of gamers who are very unhappy with the way loot boxes are being used.