ESRB Says Buying 'Loot Boxes' Is Not Gambling Despite Huge Similarities

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Loot Boxes

Loot boxes, to them, are more akin to trading cards and collectible packs that always deliver some assortment of items, whether or not these items are the ones expected by the player.

Many of this fall's biggest releases have loot boxes or loot box-like DLC.

As a result, the ESRB and PEGI limit themselves to tagging games that contain either Real Gambling or Simulated Gambling.

Some gamers feel randomized loot boxes (or microtransactions in general) have no place in a $60 game. It's not even up to rating boards as to what is classed as gambling, as "this is defined by national gambling laws", Bosmon continues. "While there's an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don't want)", an ESRB representative told Kotaku.

Games which are rated for teens and younger children often include an option to pay real money for the chance to win in-game items, and this very modern form of monetizing additional content is falling through a regulation gap in the United States and Europe. One of the most severe concerns was that these loot boxes could be considered gambling and are accessible to those under the required age, causing the ESRB to weigh in.

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However, better items might be restricted to players who pay for them.

Loot boxes have been a part of games for a long time, and they usually go like this: Players randomly receive a loot box or earn a loot box through playing a multiplayer game, then either open it for free or pay a small amount of money for a key to unlock it.

A system of trading has therefore developed, with players using third party gambling sites to pit their own skins against those of other players, or of the site itself.

Whether you consider loot boxes as a form of gambling depends on your personal definition of gambling.

More seasoned experts in the world of gambling suggest that loot boxes are, indeed, the same as gambling since the items you can obtain do have value outside the game, regardless of whether you can sell them for real money within the game or not. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box. This includes titles such as Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Forza Motorsport 7, and Destiny 2.

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