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

Loot Box Systems Are Not Gambling Says ESRB

Loot boxes don't count as gambling in the ESRB's books

Categorizing loot boxes as gambling would open up every game that offers them, including very mainstream stuff like Overwatch, Hearthstone, Destiny 2, and Assassin's Creed, to the dreaded 18-only AO sticker. The videogame community is growing angry about these developments, but official bodies like the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) don't see a problem.

The ESRB's argument may not sit well with those who believe that loot boxes are designed in the same predatory fashion as slot machines or craps tables.

China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore have all taken action to regulate skin gambling and loot box trading. We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you'll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you've had your eye on for a while.

Dirk Bosmans, from European video game rating organisation PEGI echoes these statements to Eurogamer, saying "Loot crates are now not considered gambling: you always get something when you purchase them, even if it's not what you hoped for".

Randomness is an inherent aspect of any videogame loot box: Maybe there's something good inside, or maybe you get stuck with something you've already got 16 copies of. "But other times you'll end up with a pack of cards you already have".

The outcome of opening a loot box is certainly uncertain, but ESRB doesn't consider it to be "real gambling". Many gamers have gone so far as to label it 'gambling.' But the only real organization that can do anything about it, the ESRB, has drawn a line on the issue.

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Loot boxes have come under fire for their alleged gambling qualities.

Games that receive a Real Gambling bullet point have to meet this criteria: "Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency". If you don't like 'em, don't buy 'em-and if you keep on buying them, don't be surprised and indignant when publishers keep working them into their games.

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.

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.

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

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