Loot Boxes Aren't Considered Gambling by the ESRB

Loot Boxes Aren't Considered Gambling by the ESRB”

Following up on this angle, Kotaku got in touch with the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB as it's more commonly known. "But other times you'll end up with a pack of cards you already have". 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".

Loot boxes present themselves as mystery filled item boxes.

Recently, the review aggregate site OpenCritic declared that it was planning on taking into account the use of the randomized loot system in games when giving scores, promising to warn gamers when any game uses these arguably problematic practices.

Concerns will still be there that loot boxes are synonymous with gambling. Some have argued that these micro-transactions represent a form of gambling that targets children especially in "freemium" games and, to those who do not have the capacity to limit themselves, can cause some serious financial harm. Merriam-Webster Dictionary keeps the definition pretty broad: "To bet on an uncertain outcome".

ESRB's website notes that it has two categories for gambling: real gambling and simulated gambling.

A glaring issue has been pointed out by the gaming community.

Most of the triple-A releases in the past few months have contained loot boxes, from Destiny 2 to Middle-earth: Shadow of War to the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

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. They inherently prey on the player's need for reward, prompting them to take a chance at instant gratification which can in turn cause addiction in the same way that gambling does, all the while enabling them to spend real money.

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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