Loot boxes don't count as gambling in the ESRB's books

ESRB loot boxes

ESRB loot boxes

The loot box debate has heated up again after the ESRB and PEGI said that the system does not constitute gambling in video games. If you are truly against loot boxes in games, you are free to exercise your right to not buy a title with them. "The games sector also takes its responsibility to players, particularly children, seriously and employs various parental controls across all devices that can prevent unwanted in game purchases".

Whether you get one item, multiple items, have to pay to open it, or have the option pay for as many loot boxes as you want, there's one constant: What you receive is nearly always completely random. Destiny 2 faced similar scrutiny over its own microtransaction system for cosmetic items, but the perception of real gameplay advantages has been particularly controversial. "If there is any real gambling in a game or app it will always receive an Adults Only rating". As it turns out, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) thinks that buying loot boxes is not gambling. It was implied that the "ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling".

Concerns will still be there that loot boxes are synonymous with gambling. We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you'll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you've had your eye on for a while. In contrast, loot boxes always give something to customers despite their random nature. Merriam-Webster Dictionary keeps the definition pretty broad: "To bet on an uncertain outcome". The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with United Kingdom law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year's Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming.

A glaring issue has been pointed out by the gaming community.

In many of today's video games, players find items they need within the game world, such as weapons, health and money.

The UK is now considering regulation of skin gambling and loot boxes, with a review by the UK Gambling Commission ongoing as of August 2017.

For them, the concept of gambling implies the literal game of chance in which people might or might not get something in return for their money. There's a chance to get something you really want, and people may keep throwing money at the game until they get it, just like they would when hoping for a slot machine jackpot.

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