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Opening the can of worms, that is loot box's.

Loot boxes are all the rave right now and with the sudden influx of loot boxes in all the upcoming games, it seems like loot boxes are not going to go away anytime soon. Loot boxes in video games are packages that allow players the chance to obtain special items. You might get something really cool or you might get something that is completely useless. This is the main draw of loot boxes and it's caused a huge stir recently, so we decided to take a look a the darker side of loot boxes and see if the accusations of gambling are warranted.

Oscar Portillo

The hot button issue at this moment are loot box's or loot crates. With in game experience you can push a button or pull a lever for a chance at in game materials. The situation changes when real money gets involved. Skins or sprays are all okay in my book, but again things get complicated when weapons or gear for multiplayer games are included in those loot crates. According to research team

fortress 2 was one of the early games to use this type of system in America. When the mobile gaming market took off those frequently offered the option to purchase an in-game currency with real-world money, with said currency being used to bypass game levels, quickly finish buildings with long build times, and to stronger weapons and gear. With the popularity and success of games like

Overwatch and hearthstone, other companies saw this as an opportunity.


Are loot box's a form of gambling? According to the ESRB they say "no." The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, stated publicly that the hot money making trend in video games, loot boxes, don't qualify as gambling. As far as PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) is concerned they are leaving the determining factor if Loot box's are gambling, to a national gaming commission.

Interesting to note in China rules are in place to disclose drop rates as of May 2017.


“Online game publishers shall promptly publicly announce information about the name, property, content, quantity, and draw/forge probability of all virtual items and services that can be drawn/forge on the official website or a dedicated draw probability webpage of the game. The information on draw probability shall be true and effective.”


“Online game publishers shall publicly announce the random draw results by customers on notable places of official website or in game, and keep record for government inquiry. The record must be kept for more than 90 days. When publishing the random draw results, some measures should be taken place to protect user privacy.”


This is not all doom and gloom though. I understand the need for the developers to find ways to generate extra revenue. And I myself have purchased few here and there as a regular player of Overwatch. This should be more of a caution to the gaming community that this can be a slippery slope. If an entire country has to implement a law then this is something we should be at the minimum

be paying attention to.

Felipe Parada

Lets get one thing clear, I never found the topic of loot crates all that appealing. The idea of putting down real money to get a pandora's box (literally, that's what it is) seemed a bit absurd when I first came across the mechanic. I thought to myself "I guess it has its place" and I paid it no mind. But here we are many years later and the topic has even reached the desks of the U.K. government.


Is it really gambling? I'm sure by now that you have seen both sides of the argument but when you look at the simplicity of it, it's not so easy to come to a concrete decision. Why don't people file a complaint if they feel that it is gambling? The ESRB does not consider the Loot Boxes to be gambling. "While there is an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in game content even if a player receives something they don't want. We look at it as a similar principle to collectible card games like Pokemon, sometimes you will open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you had your eye on for a while and other times you'll get cards you already have." 

When I heard the ESRB's definition of gambling I thought to myself "There it is, a concrete explanation on how Loot Boxes are not gambling." Then I looked a bit further into the concept of the loot box itself; all you are doing is opening up a box, that's it. So going back to my previous statement, this is really a pandora's box. The element of chance is where it all starts and that can present a problem with someone who can suffer from addiction. You wont know until you open the box, a Schrodinger's box if you will. It is both gambling and non gambling at the same time but it isn't until you open the box that it becomes apparent. 

All joking aside, this is a very concerning development that needs to be monitored by BOTH sides. Loot boxes can be great, if done correctly but once it starts to affect the game then it just isn't fun anymore. I'm not saying to remove them completely, its just that there needs to be a bit more thought into the mechanic of it. I love a good random weapon skin every now and again but it means having to dish out real money to get them then I will have to pass. Remember, everything in moderation.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Is it really gambling?

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