Wednesday 27 September 2023
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Links Between Gambling & Loot Boxes Grow

One of the biggest changes to come to the gaming market in recent years has come in the form of loot boxes – microtransactions as a whole have become a huge factor in gaming to the dislike of many but for now it seems as if they won’t be going anywhere as many developers heavily rely on them for the bottom line, but loot boxes could see change – since their inception, there have always been links drawn between the practice and other gambling methods, but as modern loot boxes have changed and now more so than ever replicate the look and sound of a slot machine, calls to have big changes have only grown louder.

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The first big push was seen at the end of last year – Dutch courts would go on to rule that EA would have to remove their own loot box system in the form of player packs on the popular game FIFA or risk facing a fine until the change was done in what would be the first big attempt to see a change to loot boxes – whilst this only represents a small corner of the market and not all the indicative of change as a whole, it is a step forward. Similarly, last year the UK asked players to submit evidence of how they feel loot boxes have impacted them and could also be the next be area for change.

It is tough to know where to draw the line, however – requests had come through to change the look at feel of loot boxes to less replicate a slot machine and more into something subtle, and some of the biggest games that had a huge loot box market such as Counter-Strike did that, and similar adjustments were made to the same titles to reduce any impact of online gambling markets that had developed from these whilst launching esports betting at at the same time – but it certainly hadn’t solved what many were considered a gambling problem for loot boxes, and did little to remove the links between gambling and loot boxes as a whole.

Changes are certainly on the way, but the scope of the changes are still largely unknown, and given how unlike traditional gambling this remains a space that is mostly unregulated, there may still be a lot of grey area where those who develop the loot boxes can slip into with small adjustments that don’t lead to major changes, but change just enough to stay on the right side of the requirements.