The ESRB doesn't "consider loot boxes to be gambling"

Loot Box Systems Are Not Gambling Says ESRB

Loot Box Systems Are Not Gambling Says ESRB

The game streamer has called on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to reconsider its classification of games that include pay-to-win gambling, so only a mature audience can access them. But nope, not going to happen as the ESRB doesn't see it as a form of gambling at all. 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.

Dirk Bosmans, from European video game rating organisation PEGI echoes these statements to Eurogamer, saying "Loot crates are now not considered gambling: you always get something when you purchase them, even if it's not what you hoped for". We think of it as a similar principle to collectable card games: sometimes you'll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you've had your eye on for a while.

Because the player always received something, it was likened to buying collectible cards, where some packs will contain more valuable cards than others. Our gambling content descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it's done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. In contrast, loot boxes always give something to customers despite their random nature. With more and more gamers voicing their displeasure at how this little feature is now used as a microtransaction tool, expect more gamers to hate it in future games.

The ESRB already has categories for in-game gambling and real-world gambling. In a statement to Kotaku, the ESRB clarified their position on loot boxes... He further argues that players are spending real money on items that are not real and therefore have no tangible worth. While that does contradict Bain's "money for nothing" contention, it also seems to reinforce the gambling concept.

What do you make of the situation? You may be throwing real money at loot boxes and you may not be getting what you want from them - potentially tempting you to part with yet more cash - but you are getting something. You could hit the jackpot so to speak. Skins are virtual game items, such as weapons and clothing, or even just a paint job for an existing in-game weapon. In the end, it is up to you, the consumer, to decide where to spend your money.

It's unlikely the ESRB will change its stance on loot boxes anytime soon, but hopefully publishers take note of the backlash against the heavy-handed way they've been implemented.

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