ESRB doesn't consider loot crates as gambling

James Marshall
October 12, 2017

In the wake of so many gamers raging against the rise of microtransactions and loot boxes, it was only a matter of time before an official body with authority got involved.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board has weighed in on the recent kerfuffle surrounding loot boxes to say that, as far as it is concerned, the practice of selling random chance loot boxes within a game does not equate to gambling. Players observed that most games have implemented some kind of #loot box system that rewards players with in-game items or other prizes.

Loot boxes present themselves as mystery filled item boxes. These loot box systems have been used for years in games like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Team Fortress 2. A player typically has the choice to earn them in-game or purchase them with real-world money, but there's a catch - you don't know what is in the loot box until you open it.

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".

Some folks have likened loot boxes to gambling. Merriam-Webster Dictionary keeps the definition pretty broad: "To bet on an uncertain outcome". Still, seeing how the ESRB have both "Real Gambling" and "Simulated Gambling" as ratings categories, players were hoping that the organization would help set a precedent.

Interestingly enough, the ESRB does have gambling tags for specific games including "Real and Simulating Gambling". Reportedly, the Chinese government has already done so with games that launch locally, and some can argue that this would be the most reasonable approach to solving this issue - since micro-transactions are clearly not going away.

Loot boxes are a hot topic right now, with Middle-earth: Shadow of War and its unnecessary microtransaction push at the very centre of the debate.

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. That's not quite the same as the guy who just funnelled his life savings into a slot machine.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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