Loot boxes in video games have been making plenty of headlines recently. The majority of the attention has come from the discussion as to whether loot boxes in video games should be considered gambling. Several gaming and gambling commissions around the world have started looking into the issue of loot crates in video games, but the results are not consistent. One of the latest to release a statement is the UK Gambling Commission.
If you’re not familiar with loot boxes, these are in-game crates that contain a selection of randomly generated items for the game in question. These loot crates can be earnt in-game, or they can be bought with money. Players open the boxes hoping for rare and valuable in-game items, but there is no guarantee what they’ll get.
The UK Gambling Commission investigated loot boxes to determine if they should be considered gambling. However, it came to the conclusion that loot crates cannot be considered a licensable form of gambling. The reason being, the items received in the boxes cannot be cashed out by players and only have value within the particular video game. That being said, loot crates have been identified as a potential threat to young players.
Loot boxes have been in video games for quite some time. However, it was the recent release of Star Wars Battlefront II from Electronic Arts (EA) that brought these into the spotlight. Progression in the game was almost exclusively based on the random items received from loot boxes. These items would also give players an actual in-game advantage during online multiplayer games.
It is believed that this was done by EA to encourage players to spend large amounts of money on loot crates to ensure they were on equal footing with other players. A representative from Hawaii went so far as to call this predatory behaviour from EA.
The Belgian Gaming Commission also conducted an investigation and concluded that loot boxes do constitute gambling. The Netherlands is also looking into the matter. Closer to home, a representative from the Victorian Commission for Gambling said that loot crates could be considered gambling under the state’s current laws. They also represent a danger to young players and those vulnerable to gambling addiction.