Loot boxes and microtransactions are a huge point of contention within the gaming community no matter what game they are implemented in. Many accuse developers of being greedy and needlessly affecting the gameplay in order to push players towards spending extra money, but some people consider loot boxes to be something far more insidious; a form of gambling. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has now come out and officially stated that they do not see loot boxes as a form of gambling, even though there are people who would argue otherwise.
In a statement to Kotaku, a spokesperson for the ESRB said, “ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling. 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.”
Recently, Middle-earth: Shadow of War became one of the latest titles to come under fire for seemingly creating a pay-to-win environment within game. 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.
The ESRB’s argument is sure to not sit well with many who believe the board has a financial interest in keeping loot boxes in games. If they were to be classified as real gambling, any game containing them would get slapped with an Adult Only rating, greatly limiting the amount of people who could purchase them because most stores will not sell AO games. The ESRB’s criteria considers real gambling to involve the wagering of real cash, while simulated gambling means that players can gamble without betting or wagering actual money.
What’s your stance on this issue? Let us know in the comments.