The Loot Box Issue: Can They Be Considered As Gambling?

Feb 9, 2019 | 0 Votes by jose - rate Your vote
Loot boxes or crates in video games have currently become the subject of debate and scrutiny worldwide. The issue is whether it can be considered as a form of gambling. Let's take a quick look at the factors involved.

WWGDB - The Loot Box Issue: Can They Be Considered As Gambling?


The idea of in-game bonuses has been a part of video and computer gaming since the early days of the industry. In most games, there is always some sort of extra reward for the efforts and patience that a gamer puts in to complete or win the game. However, these reward systems have evolved throughout the years especially during the emergence of multi-player and online gaming. Rewards have become varied in form from straight-out rewards for game play into optional extras that the player may opt for.

With the advent of monetization and the free2play platform concept in online gaming, the game play environment has drastically changed. Competition in the industry has become very stiff and many an online game released under free2play had to defray their development costs through various monetization schemes in place of straightforward game sales.

This evolving climate of the industry has prompted developers and publishers to re-think and re-design the regular classic game rewards system thus
implementing a money making schemes into the game design which would at the least give an optional advantage to the player or compel one to plunk in a certain amount of real cash if one wishes to move forward in the game.

Normally, a gamer is rewarded extras and bonuses for their hard work or "Grind" so to speak. That is the way games have always been and are suppose to be played. You want it, you work for it! Fair for all. With the new optional extras system made available to players especially for free2play, the free turns into pay and the game becomes pay2win. As it is supposedly an option for those who can afford to spend, in a way it becomes justified as those who can't or won't still have the option to grind for a win. These instances however raise up the issue of imbalance in the game but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are several AAA games, sold games that still implement this extras options in the form of Loot Boxes or Crates or Packs or whatever they call them. Ahh… this is where the horror and outcry in the gaming industry begins.

Loot Boxes are optional item packs that a player can use in the game. Some are really optional but if a developer and publisher can get your money with it, optionally required becomes a more proper term for these. Reasons for doing these maybe valid break even and continual earnings from the game but many argue that it is just plain Greed.

Not all AAA or even free2play/pay2win games require a gamer to spend real cash as some games will let you earn them via in-game cash and grind. However, many top game titles will not let you win if you don't buy and since they are AAA, then you spend three times. One for the game, One for your electric bill and one for the loot box that makes you win the game. (Sang to the tune of Ba ba BlackSheep).

Loot Boxes



The loot box contains random in-game items like skins, gear, superior weapons and game play add-ons or features that will make your avatar better than Master Chief and the other slowpokes in the game with you. In short, you'll need these boxes if you intend to win. Some of these items may be duplicated in your inventory so the game usually provides you a means to either trade or sell items you no longer need which some other poor sap does. Likewise, the dude may have something you need as well. Well, barter and trade is not bad but the next thing coming up is.

Most Online FPS games have eSports events and tournaments such as the case of my favorite game, CounterStrike. In CSGO, one can bet the skins in ones inventory on events and matches like these and even entire item crates. These are not free, whether you buy them or the keys that open them, you still spend money. Much worst, there are online sites where you can sort of gamble your bought items on. The public outcry comes from the word bet, meaning to gamble.

As to whether it is really gambling, no, not per se. It is however, just like gambling. CSGO is not an online casino game where you actually bet your real cash or your whole plastic card on. However, the motion one goes through in this betting feature not only for CSGO but other games as well can contribute to a probable or already current addiction to gambling. The acquisition for the loot box itself in most games come with varied and immersive bells and whistles and Spin-A-Win environments that has a psychological addictive property that can hook many gamers both young and old.

The danger lies greater for young gamers who are mostly easily influenced by the thrill of acquiring these loot boxes and addictively spending real money on them. Many cases have been brought to light with young gamers going as far as stealing from their parent’s wallets, pockets and cards just to purchase the irresistible loot box. Governments worldwide have been alarmed to look into this and the gambling potential of the loot box feature in gaming.

Many CSGO and online FPS players and even those for other games are grown-ups but a huge percentage are minors being exposed to the concept of gambling in gaming in one form of the other. As a grown-up, what you do with your cash is your own business but for the young gamers, it's a totally different issue altogether.

Some countries have already classified and labeled some loot box features in specific games as gambling. However, whether it can be considered as gambling or not, most agree that it can psychologically lead a gamer into the dark abyss of a gambling addiction and have so decided to speak up and/or take action regarding this.

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