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etvfutures.com October 17, 2017


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

13 October 2017, 03:56 | Lucia Cruz

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Loot Boxes

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Loot Boxes

America's Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has weighed in on Loot Boxes in games, saying it don't consider them to be a form of gambling. In short, if gamers want loot boxes to be considered gambling, they need to talk to regional gambling commissions and have them come to a decision.

Because the player always received something, it was likened to buying collectible cards, where some packs will contain more valuable cards than others. "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)". Players observed that most games have implemented some kind of #loot box system that rewards players with in-game items or other prizes. But the ratings board does not agree. That doesn't mean much in digital environments like Steam, where ESRB ratings are effectively irrelevant, but in the world of regular retail, it's the kiss of death. If you don't like 'em, don't buy 'em-and if you keep on buying them, don't be surprised and indignant when publishers keep working them into their games. Given the billions of dollars video game creators make from DLC each year, things like loot boxes aren't going away anytime soon. Skins are virtual game items, such as weapons and clothing, or even just a paint job for an existing in-game weapon. I was rolling the dice with my money, relying on fickle fortune to score that Ralph McQuarrie concept art card I so desperately wanted (and, by the way, never got), and yes, by some measures that is awfully close to sinking money into scratch-off cards in hopes of the big payout. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box.

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The upcoming game Star Wars Battlefront II and the recently released Middle-Earth: Shadow of War both feature loot box systems that offer players improvements on their weapons and abilities, meaning that loot boxes have a chance to give you something that gives you an advantage in the game.

The ESRB told Kokatu that loot boxes are not gambling, because the player always received some sort of item of value. Loot boxes are an entirely different beast.



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