Categories: News

Loot Boxes ‘Robustly’ Linked To Gambling

There has been a long-standing argument as to whether games that feature loot box mechanics are, technically speaking, a form of gambling. Admittedly, this pretty much boils down to practically everyone saying that it is, and companies such as EA saying that it is not. However, if loot boxes are indeed gambling, it clearly throws up more than a few legal difficulties. For example, here in the UK, where the legal age of such activity is 18 or over, this would pretty much require games such as Overwatch, FIFA, and Fortnite to be instantly reclassified as ‘mature’ or ‘adults only’ based on the inclusion of randomized purchasable items. As such, you can understand why many developers are exceptionally keen for such comparisons not to be made!

Following a report via the BBC, however, new research has concluded that there is a definitive link between gaming loot boxes and gambling!

Loot Boxes = Gambling!

Following a study commissioned by the GambleAware charity, researchers at Plymouth and Wolverhampton University announced a categorical conclusion that loot boxes share so many traits similar to gambling that it is merely nit-picking to suggest that they are inherently different! – As part of their conclusion, the authors wrote:

“Many gamers do ascribe discrete financial values to loot box contents – based on purchase or resale price – suggesting that many loot boxes meet existing criteria for gambling regulation

Our research therefore demonstrates that games developers, unwittingly or not, appear to be generating outsized loot box profits from at-risk individuals (these are likely to include both people with gambling problems or problematic patterns of video gaming) – but not from wealthy gamers.”

What Do We Think?

While the UK Government is likely set to make a decision regarding loot boxes and gambling before the end of this year, I don’t think it unfair to say that the gaming community as a whole does largely accept that such items within games are not ‘surprise fun mechanics’ as EA once hilariously tried to describe them.

Personally, I think they are gambling. Or at the very least an unhealthy/unwise purchase to be made for those with potential compulsive or addictive tendencies. If this is, indeed, made into law, however, then5 who knows, maybe FIFA 22 will have to have an 18+ sticker on the front of the box!

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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