There should be no shock at the waves of media sensationalism that Loot Boxes have caused in recent years. With video games alone there has always been a strong argument that they themselves cause addictive qualities and other manipulations of a neurological scale. Last year Console Yourself revealed an article that covered a lot of these aspects on a purely gameplay level.
Now the focus is not on gameplay but in-app or in-game purchases, mostly around what is known as a Loot Box. These are virtual consumables that are redeemed digitally to receive a random selection of equipment, points, in-game currencies, weapons, skins and more. Games that contain Loot Boxes usually have a real-world payment system so that players can purchase these boxes to gain a chance at rare or powerful items.
Now the University of Plymouth has finalised a study on these virtual boxes are such a close resemblance to gambling that they should be considered as such. The paper by James Close and Joanne Lloyd was commissioned by BeGambleAware, a group that works towards to warning people of potential gambling issues. The paper uses many other researchers findings of which most have concluded that these boxes can lead to gambling addiction. One major concern is that children often use the boxes and this can cause the onset of addiction very early on in a child’s development.
The paper title Lifting the Lid on Loot-Boxes also reveals how 5% of Loot Box consumers account for 50% of the market revenue. Tne third of the 5% of consumers account for £100 of spending a month, would be considered problem gamblers.
In 2017 Belgium declared Loot Boxes equal to that of gambling and banned them, making many mobile games in Belgium stop operations. Whether or not the UK and other countries will follow is yet to be known.