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

ESRB loot boxes

The ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling

It's a question some are asking as fan resentment over the way loot boxes are being added to games like Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and Star Wars Battlefront II boils over.

This has prompted a spokesperson for the board to inform Kotaku that the "ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling", and that "While there's an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don't want)".

Because the player always received something, it was likened to buying collectible cards, where some packs will contain more valuable cards than others. In a statement to Kotaku, the ESRB clarified their position on loot boxes... Loot boxes or loot crates have become one of the most popular expressions of this strategy, and people have long debated whether or not they count as gambling. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally. 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? Can their inclusion be classed as a form of gambling? Merriam-Webster Dictionary keeps the definition pretty broad: "To bet on an uncertain outcome".

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.

A glaring issue has been pointed out by the gaming community.

Regardless, loot box systems like this - systems that give random outcomes in exchange for money - still trigger those same feelings that make more traditional gambling appealing. The ESRB's criteria considers real gambling to involve the wagering of real cash, while simulated gambling means that players can gamble without betting or wagering actual money. Not only do they need to shell out the $60 price tag for an A-list game, but they also have to pay for a subscription service premium to play online and then spend more on top to gain rare items so they can remain competitive in the game.

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. That's not quite the same as the guy who just funnelled his life savings into a slot machine. Loot boxes are an entirely different beast.

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