Loot Boxes 'Not Gambling' Says ESRB

The ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling

Contrary to popular opinion, lootboxes apparently aren't exactly gambling, and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) won't designate them as such. Even though players can pay with real money to test their luck based on the game's RNG, they are always guaranteed to receive a digital, which is likened to a collectible card scenario, wherein the players open "a pack of and get a brand new holographic card". And it's true that players can participate in these loot boxes similar to Hearthstone's card packs without spending a penny of real-world cash. These loot box systems have been used for years in games like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Team Fortress 2. If a guarantee of in-game content is what differentiates loot boxes from gambling, what about when you open up a box and find nothing new in it?

Are loot boxes a form of gambling? One argument that we've seen spring up numerous times, especially over the last few weeks, is that loot boxes are essentially a form of gambling - and more should be done to regulate them in video games.

The outcome of opening a loot box is certainly uncertain, but ESRB doesn't consider it to be "real 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. Their existence also lingers over the upcoming release of Star Wars Battlefront II, where players expect that loot crates will impact the experience in a negative way. 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.

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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.

ESRB does have a label for in-game purchases, but with optional downloadable content on almost every game that's hitting the market these days, that covers nearly every modern game.

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