ESRB Doesn’t Consider Loot Boxes as a Form of Gambling

As the gaming industry gets deeper into Fall with video games coming out of every conceivable corner, a certain conversation around the now infamous Loot Box system has been anywhere and everywhere. With loot boxes seeming to be in almost every game, many have taken to saying it’s a form of gambling. The ESRB, however, does not see it this way.

In an article with Kotaku news editor Jason Sheer, the ESRB has stated “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.”

Where does this leave players then that feel slighted with the contents of said loot boxes? Not in the best spot. Whether playing Destiny 2, Forza 7, Shadow of War or upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II, loot boxes will be there waiting for players to buy them up hoping for whatever content they may want. Just like opening a pack of playing cards, however, sometimes that holographic is there and sometimes it’s not. This means players are left to keep spending money in hopes of getting the item(s) they want.

Players might then feel slighted and possibly turn towards venomous bouts over their favorite games. For those who might not be able to afford many games, loot box content this can leave an especially sour taste in the mouth. Loot boxes haven’t always been around, but with more games picking the system up, it doesn’t look they are going anywhere anytime soon.

It will be interesting to see how the companies making these games respond to players feeling this way over a now much used system. Video games are costly to make and companies are trying to figure out how to get the most bang for the buck to keep making the games players love. It’s two sides of the same coin. 2017 has proved Loot Box heavy, but maybe there’s hope for games in the future.