Loot Boxes: What’s all the fuss about?

The gambling industry is no stranger to public scrutiny, but now the worlds of gambling and gaming are once again colliding as pressure increases on games publishers’ use of loot boxes amid claims that they could constitute unlawful gambling.

What are loot boxes?

Loot boxes are essentially virtual boxes, crates or chests that contain randomly allocated virtual items that can be used in-game (some items are purely cosmetic whilst some improve in-game performance). So far so good; so why the recent uproar?

The issue many people have with loot boxes is that they generally require a real money purchase, and the chance that you’ll get the item you want (or need) is small. As publishers have so far not considered loot boxes to constitute gambling, there is no requirement for the allocation of the ‘loot’ to be fair or transparent, as the random number generators (RNGs) in online casino games are required to be. This is particularly frustrating for some people, as many suggest that whilst serious gamers could choose to ignore loot boxes previously, many of the big name games releases of 2017 are designed to be all but impossible to complete without the aid of certain in-game items that can only be obtained through purchasing loot boxes.

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