ESRB Says It Doesn’t See ‘Loot Boxes’ As Gambling

ESRB Says It Doesn’t See ‘Loot Boxes’ As Gambling

Over the past few weeks, as randomised loot boxes have dominated the conversation surrounding this spring’s video games, there have been calls for the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to classify them as gambling in its back-of-the-box ratings. But the ESRB says that isn’t going to happen — because according to a spokesperson, loot boxes don’t fit the bill.

“ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling,” said an ESRB spokesperson in an email to Kotaku. “While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”

The ESRB, which rates the majority of video games that are sold and published in North America with both letter grades (M for Mature, E for Everyone) and content descriptors (Blood and Gore, Nudity), has categories for both Real Gambling and Simulated Gambling. According to the ESRB’s criteria, “Real Gambling” is any sort of wagering involving real cash, while “Simulated Gambling” means that the “player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency”. The spokesperson added that any game with real gambling will always receive an “Adults Only” rating, which would be poisonous for big publishers, as most big-box retailers will not sell A-O games in their stores.

The ESRB’s argument may not sit well with those who believe that loot boxes are designed in the same predatory fashion as slot machines or craps tables. Many of this spring’s games, including Shadow of War, Destiny 2 and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2, feature systems in which you can spend real money to get randomised gear in the form of loot boxes. The addition of these microtransactions in $100 games is always a sore subject, made far worse when they have an impact on your character’s strength and abilities, as they do in these games. (Battlefront 2 is not out yet, but in our own extensive experience, loot boxes in both Shadow of War and Destiny 2 are easy to ignore, although their existence lingers.)

The resulting outrage led pundits such as John “Totalbiscuit” Bain to ask the ESRB to classify loot boxes as gambling, although that appears to be a non-starter.

The ESRB spokesperson also pointed out that the board does add the “Digital Purchases” category to any games in which you can buy additional content — which, today, is just about every game.


  • I can’t see how it differs, money changes hands for the chance to win something. That sounds like gambling to me.

    • You just described buying and playing any game. Money changes hands when you buy the game, and you play it for a chance to win something in-game. There’s a line between the two of course, but what you described there can’t be it.

      • No, you buy a game, and everything is included in that game. By winning, I mean paying money for the chance to gain ownership of an item, in the hope of getting a particular item, but with a chnace of missing out on that item.

        When buying a straight, complete game, you get everything in that game that you paid for up front.

        Paying to take a punt on maybe getting something new for that money, or maybe missing out and getting something you already own, or gambling on getting a sword or gun, but ending up with a piece of clothing, that is betting/gambling.

        Sure there are grey areas, but it is pretty straightforward, you pay for the game, you get the items that come with it. You pay for an expansion, you get the items that come with it.
        You pay for the chance to maybe get what you want, and maybe miss out, that is gambling.

        • The difference with a game, is that you always have the chance to ‘win’ an item, without paying any extra, with a loot box, once it is opened, any chance of winning the item you wanted is gone if you didn’t win it. With a game, you can just play again/play differently to win a boss battle or whatever.
          Big difference.

          • The difference is you are paying for a random in game item. That is clearly the product you are buying. I don’t see this as any different to buying a kinder surprise chocolate egg. You are getting the egg with a random toy inside it. You might really want the Elsa toy but you are buying a random toy and if you end up with Anna instead that is just the way the chocolate egg crumbles. You can keep buying eggs until you get Elsa but I wouldn’t consider it gambling.

            That isn’t to say it isn’t predatory or wrong, I just think that it isn’t gambling.

          • I bet casinos are kicking themselves for not giving out something worth 1 cent every time you bet so they can say you are always getting a prize and therefore its not gambling.

          • They are very different points.
            I for one would be happy to state that anything with a financial payout is gambling. If the core concept of the ‘game’ is the chance at making more money than you put in then it is gambling.
            If a casino had a game where you paid a dollar and every prize was a different 1c piece and that was all you could get then I wouldn’t consider it gambling, it would be random purchase of 1c pieces.
            But you ignored the other potion of my post. Do you think the kinder surprise is gambling?

          • Not really, but in that case aren’t you buying the egg which is a real thing you can eat? I do see your point though.

          • @piratepete
            I’m all for labeling and controls but the current definition doesn’t fit.
            Implement controls, things like forcing drop rates to be displayed. Add another classification to the ESRB quiver for randomised item drop for real world money, or however it should be phrased. Words are hard.

            The big debate then is what should that mean for the grading. Automatic M rating? Adults only? Not automatic but points so if nothing else it can still be an E

          • I would be happy with those suggestions. They would hate to have to display the odds haha.

          • I consider kinder surprise gambling.

            The kick you get out of receiving the jackpot and the disappointment when it doesn’t is no different. So are all these loot box systems that are now commonplace. It’s gambling in disguise. They are slot machines, essentially.

            Government and institutions will of course have their own definitions of gambling that serve their interest best.

          • loot boxes not counting as gambling would be the equivalent to a casino giving you $1.01 for every $1.00 you spend.

        • It really isn’t that straight forward. Very few games just give you all the items that are in it, I don’t know what you’ve been playing. You kill a boss in WoW, it rolls on a loot table and you don’t get the legendary weapon you wanted, that’s not gambling in the sense we’re talking about, that’s just chance.

          The number of attempts you purchase with your money doesn’t change whether it’s gambling or not.

    • I don’t see how. They’re pretty much bang on the money when they say it’s like buying a box of trading cards.

      Open a loot box, you’re guaranteed to get something. Pull the lever on a slot machine, not so much.

      The only way I can see the argument working is if you consider the ‘something’ you get to be roughly the same value as the flashing lights and noises that you ‘get’ when you lose on a slot machine. (ie: Nothing.)

      That ‘value’ is relative, though. Some white/common gear that’s only useful for vendoring still returns in-game currency.

      • I get that, but would slot machines suddenly stop being gambling if they guaranteed to dispense a chocolate bar for a losing game? Or even guaranteed to return 50% of your initial bet?

        I think companies are treading the slimy line between games and gambling. They’re certainly manipulative as hell.

        • You’d think it would come down to what you’re buying, surely? When you buy a kinder egg you’re buying a randomised toy in a chocolate egg. When you buy a loot crate you’re buying a randomised orc or whatever. When you buy a spin on a slot machine, even if it dispensed a chocolate bar every time, that’s not really what the person is buying, it’s a secondary reward.

          • Usually when people buy loot boxes they are after a very specific skin or item which is why they keep buying them until they get the one they want.

            Player Icons are the chocolate bars of overwatch.

          • That may be true but I’m not sure there’s data out there to say for sure. I know when I buy card packs in Hearthstone or lootboxes in Overwatch I’m mostly just interested in filling out my collection so I have everything. I couldn’t say how many people like me there are, but collectors and completionists aren’t that uncommon I wouldn’t think.

          • I may be biased because the only people I know who have ever bought loot boxes have spent hundreds of dollars just trying to get mercy skins whenever there is a timed event and it feels like they massively up the price of the event skins in currency to make sure you have to keep buying boxes.

          • “Technicaly it’s not gambling but functionaly it is” Jim Sterling, Laws are made by specific occurrences in society etc. The wording & legislation hasn’t caught up yet because this new form of exploitation in games is well new, is it gambling in the traditional sense of the word? No but it’s slimy and such a abhorrent practice that no one can really justify it’s inclusion in games, It’s adds nothing, It’s no benefit to the consumer. I’m hoping Assassins Creed Origins doesn’t include lootbox’s. I don’t want lootbox’s to be the new way i interact with my games as i don’t gain anything meaningful from that interaction without seeing that “insert coin here” currency crap..

          • I understand that some people see it that way, but I don’t. To my mind, chance-based purchases are fundementally different than gambling. Sure they can both be exploitative, but so can a lot of other non-gambling things.

            I agree that this implementation adds nothing for the majority of users (the ones that for whatever reason want to skip playing parts of the game they bought to play don’t bother me) but for this implementation at least nothing is taken away either. If something is given to a tiny minority that want to blow all their money on it, I don’t care as long as none of my experience is taken away in the process. When a game is released that does that (eg. most mobile games) I won’t touch it, but until then I have no strong feelings on the matter.

            I’m loving the game so far, as an aside. I put it on max difficulty and forgot it had been ages since I played the last one, so I got killed by the first five uruks I ran into. Took me a bit to get back into the swing of combat, but now that I am it’s great fun.

          • Yeah i see, If your experience is still the same as in you can play & not have your experience affected by not purchasing lootbox’s etc. Then that is fine, I agree, Max difficulty is exactly how i’d approach it lol Enjoy your game .

          • I agree that functionally it is gambling. At the same time, I don’t think companies are going to hold back on this because it is too good for their bottom line. What’s better than getting your customers to spend potentially hundreds/thousands of dollars for a cosmetic skin that essentially cost zero to make?

            Minuscule effort. Massive profit. Winning.

      • Trading Cards is a poor example… cause you can’t trade the contents of a loot box in many games, the contents have no value except to the player once unlocked.

        And in the games where you can trade them, their has been illegal trading, account thefts, exploitation and threats of violence. CSGO lottery fiasco solely existed cause of loot boxes, that subject people to actual gambling (that was also rigged)>

      • Well……except I purchased the trading card pack dispenser already, but still have to buy the cards from the machine in my own lounge room.
        Not to mention I can only use the cards and machine under the strict terms and conditions of the actual owners.

        It’s like wanting a can of coke, but having to hire the vending machine, paying the stockist and then having to find change to get a can out.

        This is kinda fun

    • In a way, yes it is, it doesn’t mean loot boxes aren’t gambling though.
      However, a claw machine is also an element of skill, you can try for the exact item you want, and skill plays a part in obtaining it. Loot boxes aren’t skill based, you also don’t know what is inside before you ‘pay’.

      • Claw machines can be skill based, but usually the grip strength takes care of that problem.

        Watch out for the ones with a chocolate consolation prize.
        Spend two bucks, molest a Plushie a few times a get a choccy for your troubles.

        • What?! Those exist? – I’ve been playing the non-chocolate consolation prize ones like a chump this whole time…

    • Considering it is physically impossible to win some turns at a claw machine due to them modifying the claw grip strength this is true

    • What a coincidence… I think those should be illegal too.
      We managed to mechanically and digitise scams that have been perpetrated by carnie barkers for centuries.

  • I think they’ve made the correct decision, even if it is the “wrong” one. They are correct that, logically, if you restrict loot boxes to adults only, you’d also have to restrict Pokemon The Trading Card Game.

    Quite simply, loot boxes aren’t gambling because you can’t win anything with any tangible value. Unless the game allows you to trade loot box offering for real money, the greatest loot box result and the worst loot box result are worth the exact same thing, monetarily.

    That being said, I agree that loot boxes do engage in the same predatory behaviour that real life gambling does, and there should be some rules put into place in a way to kerb problem behaviour:

    No discount on buying a higher amount on in game credits to use loot boxes, if $10 gets you 100 credits, $50 should get you 500. This is to try and stop people thinking they are getting value for money into a system that they can’t get their money out from.

    The real world value of how much you are spending every time you “spin the wheel” should be shown, if the cost of a loot box is 25 credits somewhere should be shown that you are actually spending $2.50. Preferably with a running total of how much money you have spent in the game. A reminder that every time you are buying the chance to win something, you aren’t just playing a game, but spending real world money can help people keep track of what they’ve spent.

    • I think a code of conduct for loot boxes is a good idea. They’re not gambling, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be standards applied to how they’re implemented. Overwatch-style crates with an odds table of qualities (doesn’t have to go all the way down to individual items) seems like a good basis.

  • If you’re going to consider loot boxes as gambling, you should probably consider those toy capsule machines as gambling also.
    You put in a quarter, turn the dial, and it dispenses a sealed object containing one of a number of possible items from the pool.
    Same concept, younger target audience, still apparently a legitimate trade.

  • If it’s not gambling, in a 1:1 sense, then give it another name and chuck that on the box so that we as consumers can look at it and go “fuck that noise”.

  • Loot boxes usually make me not buy that game.
    I think the only game i own that has them is Halo 5. And it made me not play multiplayer.

  • How isnt that gambling when you are paying for a chance to get better loot…. This world lately is a strange place

    • Because there isn’t a chance to get nothing. A bunch of crap that you won’t use sure, but when you spend an amount of money on a box that says you will get 4 items of varying value, that’s exactly what you get. Loot boxes are garbage though don’t get me wrong, but the ruling is perfectly sound

    • The ESRB’s stance is that for it isn’t gambling if there’s no ability for you to lose. While you may not get what you want, you always get something. This is akin to buying a pack of cards for Magic the Gathering or Pokemon, buying a Kinder Surprise or a mystery toy at McDonalds. Not everything that involves chance is gambling.

  • It isn’t gambling. With gambling the risk is that you might win nothing – you lose your money with nothing to show for it. With a loot box you always get something – even if it isn’t what you wanted. That’s the line and why it isn’t gambling.

    Loot boxes are shitty and I hate them but they aren’t gambling. We can’t misappropriate words because we don’t like something. Loot boxes have nothing in common with gambling and more in common with a blind bag toy.

    • This is essentially my view too. Although I’m okay with some loot boxes (like Overwatch), most are dirty, but if it’s gambling then so is any collectible card game and I don’t accept that.

      • I honestly wouldn’t mind if the definition were broadened. It’s a matter of value, and pumping the lever. If slot machines could get away with not being called gambling by dispensing a token of some sort, that’d be a bit suspect.

        It’s a feeling about philosophy more than anything, but it feels like there are distinct moral differences between someone paying a one-time fee for access to a skinner box with all of its psychological reward-based manipulation compared to linking that same manipulation to a profit-per-lever-pull. Exploitation of psychology at no extra risk of rising/unexpected cost for the sake of novelty/amusement is very different to exploitation for profit.

        • Regardless of how much scope the definition of gambling is given, I think it’s important that it shouldn’t include randomised collectibles, and ultimately that’s going to mean loot crates too. I don’t know if you did this too, but I remember going to the corner shop as soon as primary school got out to buy a bag of hot chips with chicken salt and a pack of footy cards with the bubble gum inside.

          In high school instead of footy cards it was Magic the Gathering, a game I devoted myself to even as far as becoming a tournament judge for a while. It’s a game that holds a special place in my heart and never for a moment did I feel exploited.

          I don’t believe for a second that these things are harmful practice, or one that exploits anyone, kids or adults or gamblers or anyone. Wherever the line is drawn, it must be drawn such that those types of things are free to exist unhindered. That doesn’t mean loot crates can’t be exploitative sometimes, but it’s why I’d rather see separate consideration for that rather than trying to brute force lump it in with gambling.

        • This is a really good reply.

          See I’d lean more into it being gambling, because in a way I’d consider blind boxes to be since there is literally a chance of getting nothing you want, which in effect would be a loss.

          However both you [email protected] are right in that it’s not technically gambling for a lot of reasons, it just smells and looks so much like gambling that most people think something should be done.

          Personally I don’t much mind Overwatch’s system, but I really hate all these card based multiplayer shooters. It literally just stops me playing them.

      • Even Overwatch’s loot boxes are unacceptable, even if it’s “cosmetics only” because of the timed event items… People are exploited with those wants often exploited in gambling, that they need an item, and the timed exclusives means that the people who didn’t get lucky and get what they want either need to spend money or lose out on the item. I’ve seen the forums, not all people, but it seems like a lot of people justify spending money on lootboxes at the end of events because they want those items, but that’s so exploitative that it’s sickening. I would only be able to justify a loot box system in a free game where you put nothing in to play, like Blizzards HotS. I don’t complain about their system, I even praise it for it’s re-roll availability and think it’s a great system in a free to play game, but not a game like Overwatch where you have to buy to play, because it’s a shitty, unrewarding, manipulative system that should be in a game you spend $40-$60 on only to manipulated out of more by a “beat the odds” kind of reward/microtransaction system.

    • Risk is that you might win nothing
      Have you seen the garbage whites and greens they load into those things? They are nothing.
      Seriously Haircuts for an NBA player. Thousands of player icons… when you can only select one.

      • No, they aren’t ‘nothing.’ They have little value, but they are still a thing you get. Compare that with a slot machine where you can put in your coin, lose, and get literally nothing (in fact, you lose money.)

  • The ESRB is using an incredibly pedantic, technical distinction to say that lootboxes aren’t gambling. By extension, if a $1 dollar slot machine spat out a 5c chip every time you pulled the handle, wouldn’t it not count as gambling?

    • You’re mixing apples and oranges here. If you were paying for random loot with other loot then your analogy would hold up.

      • One is actual currency, the other is a chip with has nominal trade in value of 5c – they’re not the same thing. My point was just that receiving something with a nominal value instead of nothing appears to successfully prevent something being classified as gambling. How about if it was a 5c postcard instead?

        • I’d still consider them different. With trading cards and loot boxes and the like you’re buying a randomised product, where the product is the main purpose of the purchase. Even if a slot machine always gave out a 5c postcard, that’s not really the product people are purchasing when they buy into a game.

          • Fair enough, but the ESRB doesn’t appear to think it’s any different – the quotes just talk about receiving some in-game content with every purchase, there’s no mention of desired purchase at all.

            But admittedly yeah, if you receive a postcard every single time then technically it’s not a consolation prize anyway. How about if you only get the postcard if you get no other money from the slot machine? so it’s just another option in the prize pool. And maybe it’s not a postcard, it’s a background colour change for the slots you’re sitting at. Whatever it is, the specific examples I’m using aren’t really that important. I’m just replacing the ‘no prize’ option from the pool with something that exists, but realistically only has value in a nominal sense (like duplicate cards from loot boxes / skins you don’t want / crappy postcards / background changes on a slot machine etc etc).

          • I understand what you’re getting at. We only have this one response from the ESRB to go on, which only mentions the ‘always get something’ condition. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only one or there aren’t other conditions, just that that one was the one they decided to respond with.

            My comment about the purpose of the purchase is my own distinction that I think is logical. I’ve had discussions with people a lot over the past few days about what should or shouldn’t be considered gambling, and I’ve tried to ask questions that outline why it’s not at all a simple thing to define or enforce. I think a lot of people are just jumping to one side or the other without considering how difficult it is to actually draw a line between all these different shades of grey.

            I’m also pretty conscious that these kinds of debates can go on ad nauseum and it just ends up frustrating everyone on both sides. I’ve probably described my view on things well enough at this point, I don’t want to beat people over the head with my views or anything. I don’t begrudge anyone their opinion if they disagree with me here, this is definitely shades of grey rather than black and white.

    • I think the point is that gambling involves a cash prize. if you are putting money in with the expectation that you could get more money out on a good streak of luck, then it’s gambling.

      However putting money into something with no expectation of monetary returns, but knowing that you will receive an item (valuable or not) even if that item is one of a randomised selection, it’s not quite gambling.

      Yes it is still a game of chance, but the differentiator is the fact that you aren’t throwing money at it with the expectation that you could receive more money in returns from the game if you play it “well” enough or long enough.

      In this case, you know that you aren’t going to be getting that money back, so its a chance purchase and not gambling.

      • Gambling just requires betting and potentially winning something of value, it doesn’t need to be cash. That would be a pretty massive loophole in gambling restrictions otherwise.

  • As much as it hurts me to say this, I doubt Overwatch style lootboxes will be going away anytime soon. They offer too much money for the publisher/developer for minimal effort on their part. What REALLY needs to change though is the understanding between all 3 parties (players included) that the items received from these boxes are only ever cosmetic. That they never under any circumstances contain items that give game changing benefits and that they are not a source of progression like in Battlefront 2. If these 2 points become standard rules that are followed then games can have $400 lootboxes for all I care. I’ll never be dumb enough to buy one but if someone wants to, by all means throw money at it.

    • This is basically my stance too, once it shifts from cosmetic to random chances at in-game content (cod since bo3) (bo3 youre the worst) especially under the circumstances that 1. lootbox gear has a greater competitive advantage and 2. there is no justifiable way to earn them in game, by which i mean the length of time one has to commit, you know like once you hit lvl 5 on any mobile game

    • games can have $400 lootboxes for all I care. I’ll never be dumb enough to buy one but if someone wants to, by all means throw money at it.

      Why don’t we ever care about how we treat the dumb people?

  • (Originally @negativezero)

    No, because that’s the same currency that went in, just diminished. Ergo, still a loss.

    But if they dropped out a little plastic figurine that’s only worth about five cents? Yeah, they wouldn’t be gambling, because you’re essentially buying at least a tiny figurine.

    Like I’ve said lower in the comments, I wouldn’t mind the definition being broadened, such that buying packs of Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering cards is considered ‘gambling’. But right now, it’s basically the same thing in most gaming lockboxes. You’re going to get dupes you didn’t want for your $5 lockbox purchase, but you’re not going to get 50c to $100 back or anything.

  • Do you people even remember a time when video games were sold as the whole product (with absolutely no pre-order bonuses, no DLC or season passes, and with no microtransactions)? That when you purchased a game, you knew you were getting something in its entirety, that you were getting the same experience as everyone else without having to be psychologically baited into buying more so that you didn’t miss out (which was the very inception of advertising – to make people feel like they NEEDED their product by preying on peoples insecurities and fears for nothing less than maximum profit)?

    There is so much more that I could go on about when it comes to this topic of conversation, but I feel like it won’t mean anything at the end of the day. It’s basically a sign of the times, and to me it’s just a really depressing state of affairs. I would like to think that if this sort of thing keeps going, keeps becoming more predatory and insidious, that it will eventually lead to some sort of collapse in the industry until these publishers can get their heads out of their asses and go back to treating their customers with some modicum of respect, and not to treat them like those opened mouth clown games at a carnival, to see just how much further they can ram their collective d**ks down their throats (sorry for being vulgar).

    To all of those that support this kind of practice? Good luck to you. I just hope that you realise that it will never stop getting worse. You really think that these publishers are ever going to be satisfied? You really think that with all the inch-by-inch tactics they’ve already shown, that they aren’t going to want the whole mile? It’s only going to continue to get worse and these companies know that the frog in slowly heating water won’t know the difference … not like throwing it directly in boiling water. Well, this frog has known for a long time that the water has been heating up and I’m not falling for it. I only buy games when they are cheap and when all the content is included (like it should have been in the first place) … and I will NEVER spend one solitary dollar on a microtransaction. Otherwise, go stick it up your ass.

    • It’d be nice if you made your argument without effectively calling anyone who doesn’t have a problem with this at the moment frogs too stupid to realise they’re being boiled alive, or carnival clown heads getting fucked by ‘the man’.

      It’s a subjective metaphor that might describe how you personally feel about it, but applying that objectively to everyone is condescending. Can’t we (collectively) disagree respectfully without casting aspersions on the people who don’t agree?

  • Not gambling.

    May share elements of it and some people may run with that and toot their horn believing they are correct, and people with illogical gambling tendencies may find this horrid to them…

    But it is clearly a transaction, you can not make any financial gain from it, so you are willing to spend that money without any chance of having that money come back.

  • Any game of chance requiring real money for a loot box should be considered gambling – the distinction of what type of reward is received from such boxes should be distinguished between cosmetic, pay to win (items that may provide an advantage over other players or AI opposition) and also real money (which marketplace re-selling is involved). The reward could be a combination of these 3 types however.

    • Are you saying booster packs in Hearthstone which are mimicking booster packs in real-life are gambling though because they’re identical?

  • Esrb new category: RNGesus (real money required for random reward)
    Level 1. Cosmetic
    Level 2a. In-game content accessible by no other means.
    Level 2b. Competitive rewards (p2w)
    Level 3. Tradable items (any of the above)

    • ESRB should also compel,
      % chances on the tiers inside boxes (in a single box and 100 boxes – to display guarantee mechanics like Blizzard has)
      Parental Controls
      Mechanics to buy Loot box content directly with an ingame purchase (virtual or real money) .

      and 2b… seriously Pay2win is the worse one. That is a 4.

      I think Blizzard does a good job with their loot boxes, but still they fill them with a lot of trash, and don’t allow real money purchase of skins which is shit.

  • While they are correct on what they say it’s still a grey area that needs attention and regulation.

  • Goddammit! It’s all gambling. If there’s random chance on the aspect of buying then it’s a gamble. Everyone still trying to move the goalposts by saying that you don’t bet on money or that it’s just like gatchapon or Kinder Surprise or trading cards or even a bag or marbles and they are all just gambling! Don’t even bother to hark back to the days of pay-per-play Arcade machines because they are no better than jumped-up ‘skill games’ and there’s a reason people abandoned them en-mass for consoles in the late eighties.

  • Dear ESRB, you exist for the sole reason to protect an industry from being crippled by government regulation by self-regulating itself, by doing so ensure consumer confidence and protect the industry as a whole.

    If you don’t see that loot boxes is becoming an issue, then the government regulators will step in… and your sole existence, of keeping the government out of your industry, has FAILED!

    You have to do something about the self-regulating Random Loot boxes, else the consumers will be pushed too far or your industry will make too many mainstream headlines.

  • Well that is what a self-regulating industry body says!
    Wonder what a government consumer protection or gambling authority would have to say about it?

  • Well, the ESRB can say whatever they want about the matter, but the United States legal definition of gambling would say otherwise. “Gambling is accepting, recording, or registering bets, or carrying on a policy game or any other lottery,or playing any game of chance, for money or other thing of value.”
    It is a game of chance. There is no disputing it fits the legal definition of gambling. I actually was inclined to agree with them at first to be honest. At least when you walk in to a casino you can find the odds listed on slot machines. Loot crate style things rarely tell you the chances of item drops, and even if they do nobody is checking to make sure they’re not lying. Unlike in a real casino. Also, you have to be 18 to gamble legally in the US. I would argue that loot crates in certain(Not all) games are intentionally targeted at children and teenagers to try to get them addicted to gambling. So, yes I’m inclined to say that this isn’t gambling as we know it. It’s far worse, and the fact that the ESRB is doing nothing to inform consumers or help regulate this is shameful. They have pretty much endorsed targeted gambling at minors with this statement. I hope however much WB, and the other big gaming published gave you to say this was worth it.

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