ESRB Doesn't Believe Purchasing Loot Boxes is a Form of Gambling

ESRB Doesn't Believe Purchasing Loot Boxes is a Form of Gambling

The Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) has waded into the recent conversation surrounding loot boxes, saying the mechanic does not fulfill its criteria for using gambling as a game descriptor.

Understandably, their reasoning has sparked even more debate in light of what that entails, specifically the fact that there is now less leverage to push for stricter video game regulation and reclassification of loot boxes as forms of gambling. It's just sort of like gambling because customers always get something for their money, no matter how bad or worthless. One argument that we've seen spring up numerous times, especially over the last few weeks, is that loot boxes are essentially a form of gambling - and more should be done to regulate them in video games. This is because, in gambling, participants run the risk of walking away with nothing.

Furthermore, the loot system can not fall under the gambling definition since digital items do not have intrinsic value.

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

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.

Because the player always received something, it was likened to buying collectible cards, where some packs will contain more valuable cards than others.

This statement relies on semantics more than anything else, but it's how laws and rules are made, so it's safe to say that the ESRB's hands are tied. But the ratings board does not agree. The ratings board told Kotaku that, because lootboxes are always guaranteed to give players something for their money, they can't be considered gambling-the latter has no actual guarantee of winning anything.

The ESRB also noted it does advise players of the inclusion of microstransactions, as the company "does disclose the ability to purchase in-game content via the Digital Purchases interactive element, which will accompany the assigned age rating and content descriptors for digitally delivered games and apps". But for now, parents and concerned role models will need to just limit exposure as much as they deem fit. Loot boxes are an entirely different beast. Do you think that loot crates are gambling?

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