ESRB says video game loot boxes no longer qualify as ‘gambling, ‘ regardless of similarities

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ESRB says video game loot boxes don't qualify as 'gambling,' despite similarities

Loot boxes appear to be grabbing hold as the big brand new monetization trend in video games and individuals are pushing back, claiming these people just a thinly veiled gambling program used to exploit players.  

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organization that gives games their age plus content ratings in North America, disagrees.

Loot boxes have been part of games for a long time, and they usually proceed like this: Players randomly receive a loot box or earn a loot box through playing a multi-player game, then either open it at no cost or pay a small amount of money for any key to unlock it. A few games also allow players to purchase loot boxes with real money.

Whether you get one item, several items, have to pay to open it, and have the option pay for as many loot containers as you want, there’s one continuous: What you receive is almost always totally random.

Good loot container systems offer only cosmetic items which don’t really effect gameplay, such as spray paint designs or tool skins. These loot box software has been used for years in online games like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Team Fortress 2.

Bad loot box systems provide progression items or weapon enhancements that do effect gameplay. A couple of online games have put this poor exercise in the spotlight recently � igniting the debate on whether loot containers, especially ones that have the potential in order to effect gameplay and can be purchased along with real money � should be considered gambling.

The upcoming game Star Battles Battlefront II and the recently launched Middle-Earth: Shadow of War each feature loot box systems that provide players improvements on their weapons plus abilities, meaning that loot boxes possess a chance to give you something that gives you a benefit in the game.

“We think of it as an identical principle to collectible card games”

Players have the option to buy more loot boxes in these games with real cash, and the contents are random, therefore one could say that players are betting on what they’re going to get out of these loot boxes.

Despite this, within an email statement to Kotaku upon Wednesday, an ESRB spokesperson stated the organization doesn’t consider loot containers to fall under the gambling coverage.

“ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling, ” this told Kotaku. “While there’s some chance in these mechanics, the player will be always guaranteed to receive in-game articles (even if the player unfortunately gets something they don’t want). Good of it as a similar principle in order to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open up a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your attention on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of credit cards you already have. “

Whether you think about loot boxes as a form of betting depends on your personal definition of gambling. Merriam-Webster Dictionary keeps the definition pretty wide: “To bet on an uncertain result. “

The outcome of opening the loot box is certainly uncertain, yet ESRB doesn’t consider it to be “real gambling. “

ESRB’s website records that it has two categories intended for gambling: real gambling and controlled gambling.  

Games that get a Real Gambling bullet point need to meet this criteria: “Player may gamble, including betting or betting real cash or currency. “

Games that receive a Simulated Gambling topic point have to meet this requirements: “Player can gamble without wagering or wagering real cash or foreign currency. “

Because loot boxes within games like Battlefront II plus Shadow of War can be purchased along with real cash or currency, it seems reasonable that they’d fall into the real betting category. But it seems that ESRB just counts it as gambling when the players have a chance of not obtaining anything from the loot box.

Regardless, loot box systems such as this â€? systems that give random final results in exchange for money â€? still bring about those same feelings that make classical gambling appealing. There’s a chance to go you really want, and people may keep tossing money at the game until they will get it, just like they would when wishing for a slot machine jackpot.

ESRB does have a label for in-game purchases, but with optional downloadable articles on almost every game that’s striking the market these days, that covers virtually every modern game. Loot boxes is surely an entirely different beast.

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