Are loot boxes gambling?

Are loot boxes gambling?

The question of whether loot boxes are gambling is difficult to answer, but there have been some links in studies that correlate certain traits such as addiction and depression with excessive use of loot boxes.

What are loot boxes?

Loot boxes are a common form of microtransaction in video games with random rewards. When you buy a loot box, you're hoping to get a digital item that's rare, unique or special in some way.

While almost any digital item can be contained in a loot box, they commonly contain a costume, weapon or character. However, the odds of this happening are often low enough that the game encourages you to purchase many loot boxes at one time to increase your odds of getting those types of rewards. They're often targeted toward children.

Historically, there have been cases when children purchasing loot boxes have nearly emptied their parents' savings.

Some governments such as the UK are already considering putting loot boxes in the same category as gambling. If they were to reach a consensus affirming this opinion, then loot boxes would be federally regulated.

Should loot boxes be treated as a type of gambling?

This question was examined in 2020 by research from the GambleAware charity, and in 12 of their 13 studies, they discovered a strong link between the purchasing of loot boxes and those vulnerable to gambling addiction. Younger age, lower education, histories of addiction and depression are also correlated with higher usage of loot boxes.

The study notes the psychological effect that earning a wanted item in a loot box feels like "winning" to many players, so loot boxes may offer distinct psychological rewards. Loot box events are often timed, with certain rewards being available only at certain times. This means many purchase loot boxes because of the fear of missing out (FOMO, a term often associated with social media addiction), according to GambleAware's surveys.

Loot boxes require further research, but they're only getting more popular

Loot boxes are an extremely popular way for game developers to make money from players. These developers encourage the purchasing of loot boxes in many ways, such as by offering a limited number for free and then charging for more.

Whether loot boxes are gambling remains up for debate and more research is required. However, parents should stay vigilant for excessive purchasing of loot boxes by their children.

For more tips on how to save money, follow our blog at WMC Accounting.

Latest Business Accounting Articles