Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

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

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

Their existence also lingers over the upcoming release of Star Wars Battlefront II, where players expect that loot crates will impact the experience in a negative way.

In many of today's video games, players find items they need within the game world, such as weapons, health and money. While the North American Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) maintains that any games that officially contain gambling will receive an "Adults Only" rating, which is 18+ years of age, Destiny 2 and Star Wars contain the Teen rating, suitable for those 13-years-old or more, while Shadow of War is closer to the mark with its Mature rating, meant for 17+. "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".

Are loot boxes a form of gambling? According to a statement from the board issued to Kotaku, loot boxes don't equate to digital gambling as players are guaranteed to receive some form of in-game content - whatever it might be - inside the box with their purchase.

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". The ratings board told Kotaku that, because lootboxes are always guaranteed to give players something for their money, they can't be considered gambling-the latter has no actual guarantee of winning anything. Loot boxes, to them, are more akin to trading cards and collectible packs that always deliver some assortment of items, whether or not these items are the ones expected by the player.

In that respect, turning attention to popular card games such as Pokémon, Magic the Gathering and Blizzard's Hearthstone, none are classified as gambling and yet all are accessible to nearly everyone.

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.

Gamers' calls for the ESRB to formally designate in-game lootboxes, which allow users to spend real money to get random items, as gambling have failed. A system where it's possible to get nothing new or useful for your money sounds like gambling to me. Loot boxes are an entirely different beast.

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