Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

ESRB Doesn't Believe Purchasing Loot Boxes is a Form of Gambling

ESRB Doesn't Believe Purchasing Loot Boxes is a Form of Gambling

According to their review, the loot boxes are considered as a form of optional premium digital content [VIDEO] that includes DLCs and micro-transactions.

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.

Furthermore, the loot system can not fall under the gambling definition since digital items do not have intrinsic value. 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+.

Because the player always received something, it was likened to buying collectible cards, where some packs will contain more valuable cards than others.

ESRB's website notes that it has two categories for gambling: real gambling and simulated gambling.

"ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling", the statement reads. If you are truly against loot boxes in games, you are free to exercise your right to not buy a title with them. I was rolling the dice with my money, relying on fickle fortune to score that Ralph McQuarrie concept art card I so desperately wanted (and, by the way, never got), and yes, by some measures that is awfully close to sinking money into scratch-off cards in hopes of the big payout. John Bain, aka TotalBiscuit, feels that loot boxes are gambling despite the fact that the player always receives something of value.

However, many of these virtual items sell for hundreds of dollars on platforms like the Steam Marketplace.

Players have raised concerns about the use of loot boxes in recent games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, specifically over the worry that the gameplay benefits of loot boxes could veer too far toward a "pay-to-win" strategy. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box.

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. In a statement to Kotaku, the ESRB clarified their position on loot boxes...

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