ESRB rules that loot boxes do not qualify as gambling

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Categorizing loot boxes as gambling would open up every game that offers them, including very mainstream stuff like Overwatch, Hearthstone, Destiny 2, and Assassin's Creed, to the dreaded 18-only AO sticker.

Contrary to popular opinion, lootboxes apparently aren't exactly gambling, and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) won't designate them as such. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.

The ESRB replied to Kotaku with the following statement: "ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling".

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The star also called out game developers who do not release their loot box odds, arguing that adults who play such games deserve clarity on the chance of receiving a decent item when they shell out for a loot box. 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. "Real Gambling" is any sort of wagering involving real cash, while "Simulated Gambling" means that the "player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency". 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. For now, the rating board will define them under the "Digital Purchases" category.

In recent years, console and computer games have started including loot box purchases. So isn't the virtuality of an item just serving as a loophole?

A system of trading has therefore developed, with players using third party gambling sites to pit their own skins against those of other players, or of the site itself.

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However, many of these virtual items sell for hundreds of dollars on platforms like the Steam Marketplace. And now we are to the point where videogames like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Star Wars: Battlefront II more or less require players to buy loot boxes in order to gain any advantage.

KitGuru Says: So many issues surround the idea of loot boxes, which makes me wonder why anyone would support them in the first place. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box. In a statement to Kotaku, the ESRB clarified their position on loot boxes...

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