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

13 October, 2017, 06:06 | Author: Patsy Dennis
  • Loot Box Systems Are Not Gambling Says ESRB

Gaming at the moment is facing a loot box epidemic, in that any and every other release seems to contain the randomised content crates, causing quite the controversy for many reasons.

While some might like the idea of unlocking random stuff, it's a pain in the neck for those looking for one specific item.

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In a statement to Kotaku, a spokesperson for the body that decides what kind of rating entertainment properties like TV shows, movies, and video games writes that the act of buying or selling loot boxes is not officially considered gambling. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.

The ESRB replied to Kotaku with the following statement: "ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling".

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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". "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". With reportedly exploitative methods that sometimes requires players to but them to hopefully save time, or the fear that loot boxes can trigger addictive tendencies, many are hoping for the rating boards to provide some warnings and regulations for the boxes. Many publishers earn hundreds of millions of dollars they can invest into R&D and incubation for new projects and IP, and that money may not otherwise be there if not for in-game purchases. 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? Skins are virtual game items, such as weapons and clothing, or even just a paint job for an existing in-game weapon. Many of this fall's games, including Shadow of War, Destiny 2, and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II, feature systems in which you can spend real money to get randomized gear in the form of loot boxes. In other words, it's not gambling in and of itself that determines the rating, it's the stakes.

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.

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Skin gambling is not prohibited as a betting activity and loot boxes can be traded within video games.

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