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Loot Boxes Aren't Gambling According to ESRB

13 October 2017

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. "Should there be any gambling or gambling related mechanics in a game, ESRB assigns one of two content descriptors as part of the rating: "Simulated Gambling" (player can simulate gambling without betting or wagering real cash or currency) and "Real Gambling" (player can actually gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency)".

Responding to the debate surrounding loot boxes, the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) has stated that selling random chance loot boxes doesn't qualify as gambling, in its eyes.

In recent years, console and computer games have started including loot box purchases.

The most public controversy surround loot boxes are the possibility that its inclusion could diminish gameplay by introducing a harder, more time consuming grinding element or perhaps even offset the balance of multiplayer by introducing a pay-to-win effect. But the ratings board does not agree. The charge is being led by popular YouTube personality John "Totalbiscuit" Bain, who has called for the ESRB to officially classify randomized loot systems as gambling.

Despite this, in an email statement to Kotaku on Wednesday, an ESRB spokesperson said the organization doesn't consider loot boxes to fall under the gambling umbrella.

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Regardless, loot box systems like this - systems that give random outcomes in exchange for money - still trigger those same feelings that make more traditional gambling appealing.

The UK is now considering regulation of skin gambling and loot boxes, with a review by the UK Gambling Commission ongoing as of August 2017. This is different to a casino, where the player has the potential to walk away with absolutely nothing for their contribution. "But other times you'll end up with a pack of cards you already have".

Skin gambling is not prohibited as a betting activity and loot boxes can be traded within video games. Is dropping a tenner on red and letting it ride the same as spending $10 on a Loot Box and getting common items? Including these elements in games is somewhat toxic to developers and publishers, since they will get automatically rated as Adult Only content and won't be sold in most major stores.

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Loot Boxes Aren't Gambling According to ESRB