Are Loot Boxes a Form of Gambling?

Lily Hunter - Writer and researcher at CasinoCrawlers
Written by Olivia Kim
Loot Boxes nz are they a form of gambling?
Published: 08/06/2023
Reading time: 4 minutes

Loot boxes are becoming more common among mobile and video games. Players will purchase a loot box not knowing exactly what's inside. Since there's no guarantee of set items, many players are left disappointed or even frustrated at what they received.

As more games start to introduce loot boxes, controversy is beginning to form around them. Could video game loot boxes be a form of gambling? We're going to take a closer look into how these loot boxes could be harmful to someone with a gambling problem. Read on to find out more.

What is a Loot Box?

Loot boxes are a common feature in online games. Players will be offered the opportunity to purchase one of these boxes for a chance to obtain unique in-game items. This could be weapons, clothing, skins, or other items that improve their gameplay.

Several popular online games feature loot boxes, including:

  • Apex Legends
  • Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Covet Fashion
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Candy Crush

When it comes to loot boxes, the player purchasing one has no idea what's inside. They could receive speciality items or skills that are worth more than what they paid. This will give them an advantage in their favourite games. On the other hand, they may receive useless items that are less than what they spent or items they already own (or are very easy to get in the game for free). There is no guarantee with these boxes.

How Popular Are Lootboxes?

Lootboxes are very popular among video game players. Avid gamers are always looking for ways to improve their gameplay and be the best player in a match. This has led to an increase in revenue for game developers. Most well-known game developers are earning $15 billion annually from loot boxes. Some of the more popular game developers are earning up to $30 billion.

How to Know If a Game Has Loot Boxes

Unfortunately, there isn't a set way to know if a game has loot boxes or not before you start playing. They are very common on games that are free but advertise in-app purchases. However, playing paid games doesn't mean you won't see them. Loot boxes are also becoming common among many paid online games.

The only way to know for sure if a game has loot boxes or not is to review the game itself and look for items to purchase. You may also be able to find more information on loot boxes by reading game reviews online.

Some Facts about Loot Boxes

Have you been noticing loot boxes in your favourite online games? Here are some facts you should know.

  • Loot boxes are becoming hard to avoid because more games are introducing them
  • Mystery prizes are given randomly in these boxes
  • Loot boxes became popular in the early 2000s
  • They are most commonly featured in free games
  • Over 30% of kids under the age of 18 have purchased a loot box

Controversy Over Loot Boxes

A lot of gamers have complained about the contents of the loot boxes. It's more common to receive digital items that are worth less than what the player paid for. While most gamers know that there is a risk of not getting what they paid for, they still feel pressured to purchase them. This is because there have been many reports of online bullying toward players who haven't purchased in-game items.

Can Loot Boxes be Considered Gambling?

Some experts look at loot boxes as similar to gambling. This is because people are willing to take a chance at spending money to win a prize. There are speciality items that could be in the loot box but no guarantee of it.

Do Loot Boxes Stimulate Gambling Behaviour?

One of the problems with loot boxes is that they stimulate behaviour that's similar to gambling. This is especially true for players who are after a specific item. When they open a loot box of low value, they get that "near miss" feeling. This has them purchasing another box in hopes of obtaining a valuable digital item for the game.

Addiction to Loot Boxes

Avid video game players are at risk of loot box addiction. When they get a valuable box with a rare speciality item, they get a similar feeling that gamblers experience when they hit a jackpot. This good feeling is caused by a release of dopamine in the brain. The player will want to feel that rush again and again, causing them to continuously purchase loot boxes.

A Road to Problem Gambling?

More research is still needed to determine if loot boxes could lead to problem gambling. However, many people are concerned about the effect it has on young players since loot boxes are easily attainable. People are also worried about how loot boxes encourage addictive spending, especially since the main target is children.

How to Talk to a Child About Loot Boxes

The best way to talk to your child about loot boxes is to be open. Start the conversation by asking what games they have been playing and if there are any special features. Then steer the conversation toward in-app purchases. Make sure you inform that the loot boxes are a way for the company to make money and players rarely receive speciality items. You should also advise them to always ask you before making an in-app purchase.

Conclusion - Loot Boxes NZ

Loot boxes contain digital items that can be used in video games. Many online games feature these boxes to earn a profit from players. While there is a chance that players could obtain valuable items to use in the game, most players end up with a loot box that is less valuable than the cost.

Resources:

  • BBC News
  • Forbes
  • Havard Business School
  • Responsiblegaming.vic.gov.au

 

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Olivia Kim

Olivia Kim

Developer & iGaming Tech Expert

9 Articles
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Olivia is an experienced researcher and writer interested in everything relating to cryptos and iGaming. Olivia is also a skilled software developer and uses her IT and programming skills to write accurate content about technical aspects and iGaming tech. She helps with the QA and development aspects of Casinocrawlers.

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Last updated: July 3, 2023