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

13 October 2017

Loot boxes and microtransactions are a huge point of contention within the gaming community no matter what game they are implemented in.

The game streamer has called on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to reconsider its classification of games that include pay-to-win gambling, so only a mature audience can access them.

"ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling", it told Kotaku.

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The ESRB has an Adults-Only rating that is applied to content with real-world gambling, but it's tied to actual gambling (ie poker or blackjack) using real-world money. Loot boxes, to them, are more akin to trading cards and collectible packs that always deliver some assortment of items, whether or not these items are the ones expected by the player. According to the organization, real gambling involves users wagering real cash, while simulated gambling involves virtual cash or currency. They inherently prey on the player's need for reward, prompting them to take a chance at instant gratification which can in turn cause addiction in the same way that gambling does, all the while enabling them to spend real money. With more and more gamers voicing their displeasure at how this little feature is now used as a microtransaction tool, expect more gamers to hate it in future games.

Loot boxes have been a part of games for a long time, and they usually go like this: Players randomly receive a loot box or earn a loot box through playing a multiplayer game, then either open it for free or pay a small amount of money for a key to unlock it.

For them, the concept of gambling implies the literal game of chance in which people might or might not get something in return for their money.

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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.

Well, it seems the video game industry can breathe easy for now. In contrast, loot boxes always give something to customers despite their random nature.

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. Their existence also lingers over the upcoming release of Star Wars Battlefront II, where players expect that loot crates will impact the experience in a negative way.

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

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