ESRB Doesn't Consider Loot Boxes as a Form of Gambling

Mindy Sparks
October 12, 2017

Despite this, in an email statement to Kotaku on Wednesday, an ESRB spokesperson said the organization doesn't consider loot boxes to fall under the gambling umbrella. "But other times you'll end up with a pack of cards you already have".

We may not like it when loot boxes are twisted into mircotransaction catalysts and stuffed into our games, but we can't deny that the ESRB's response at least seems logical.

Dirk Bosmans, from European video game rating organisation PEGI echoes these statements to Eurogamer, saying "Loot crates are now not considered gambling: you always get something when you purchase them, even if it's not what you hoped for".

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.

Some folks have likened loot boxes to gambling.

Recently, the review aggregate site OpenCritic declared that it was planning on taking into account the use of the randomized loot system in games when giving scores, promising to warn gamers when any game uses these arguably problematic practices. If a guarantee of in-game content is what differentiates loot boxes from gambling, what about when you open up a box and find nothing new in it? One argument that we've seen spring up numerous times, especially over the last few weeks, is that loot boxes are essentially a form of gambling - and more should be done to regulate them in video games. Merriam-Webster Dictionary keeps the definition pretty broad: "To bet on an uncertain outcome". "Real Gambling" is any sort of wagering involving real cash, while "Simulated Gambling" means that the "player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency". And now we are to the point where videogames like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Star Wars: Battlefront II more or less require players to buy loot boxes in order to gain any advantage. This is because, in gambling, participants run the risk of walking away with nothing. Are loot boxes harmless or just a new take on the slot machine? For now, the rating board will define them under the "Digital Purchases" category.

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