Many of this fall’s biggest releases have loot boxes or loot box-like DLC. This includes titles such as Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Forza Motorsport 7, and Destiny 2. Given their randomly generated nature, some like John “Total Biscuit” Bain believe the ESRB should officially qualify loot boxes as a form of gambling. Unfortunately for these folks, that’s something that isn’t going to happen.
Speaking with Kotaku via email, an ESRB spokesperson stated that the “ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling.” The spokesperson also said: “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). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”
The ESRB already has categories for in-game gambling and real-world gambling. According to the organization, real gambling involves users wagering real cash, while simulated gambling involves virtual cash or currency. The spokesperson added that any game with real-world gambling would automatically get an “Adults Only” rating.
This is certainly a touchy subject. Some gamers feel randomized loot boxes (or microtransactions in general) have no place in a $60 game. Conversely, there are others who don’t have an issue with loot boxes so long as they do not impact the core gaming experience. Given the billions of dollars video game creators make from DLC each year, things like loot boxes aren’t going away anytime soon. If you are truly against loot boxes in games, you are free to exercise your right to not buy a title with them. In the end, it is up to you, the consumer, to decide where to spend your money.
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