Loot Boxes Are ‘Akin’ To Gambling, Says New Report

A new study has further established the connection between loot boxes and the addictive nature of gambling.

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The subject of loot boxes and gambling has been a hot topic over the years in relation to the implications and connections of how some mechanics in video games are inspired by gambling.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, I believe that it’s hard to argue against loot boxes being associated with gambling habits. It’s believed some publishers and developers likely take inspiration from the gambling world as a method to generate profitable revenue.

Even at its core, the addictive nature of buying “just one more” randomly generated purchase, especially when you don’t get the contents you want, can be closely tied to a gambling losing streak with the affected player digging themselves into a deeper hole.

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For years now charities have been fighting against the gambling mechanics of loot boxes, or have at least tried to gain more clarity and control over what the player may spend or receive from randomised purchases.

One such charity is the UK-based GambleAware which, after a recent study, claims that loot boxes are “structurally and psychologically akin to gambling”.

It is also claimed that around half of the revenue generated by loot boxes comes from five per cent of buyers, as reported by gamesindustry.biz.

The latest report is a study conducted by the University of Plymouth and the University of Wolverhampton, and their findings will be presented in the upcoming Gambling Act review.

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The report has discovered that when examining 7,771 loot box purchasers, around half of the revenue generated by loot boxes is worth £700 million in the UK in 2020, which comes from five per cent of buyers.

GambleAware aims to enforce policies that have a more clear definition of what constitutes loot boxes and make it legal to feature age ratings on games that feature loot boxes.

The charity has also called for a full disclosure of odds when purchasing look boxes, having spending limits and prices to be displayed in real currency. The latter two changes that GambleAware wants to enforce are something that I personally support. Sometimes when a loot box can be less than £1/$1, it can seem like a small purchase at the time.

loot boxes
Credit: Blizzard

However, multiple purchases of these £1/$1 loot boxes over a week, months, or a year will quickly add up, and I think some of us might be surprised by our yearly spending habits in-game (which includes me).

A third of these gamers were found to fall into the ‘problem gambler’ category (PGSI 8+) establishing a significant correlation between loot box expenditure and problem gambling scores,” said GambleAware.

The topic of loot boxes and gambling won’t be going away any time soon and I think it’s very important that it remains relevant in this day and age. Plus, I believe if there’s at least one thing most of us could agree on, is that in-game microtransactions need more clarity and control for the player at the very least.

You can read the report in further detail via gamesindustry.biz.

Featured Image Credit: Blizzard/Unsplash