Online Gaming - Loot Box Lunacy? Or a Real Threat?
Loot boxes are a trending topic throughout the main social media sites and have been for a while now. For any of you that don’t know about loot boxes, they are in-game enhancements which players can purchase to give them an advantage over others.
Oddly enough, these in-game purchases are referred to as ‘microtransactions’ although some players spend a colossal $5000 per month on them! The most prevalent games offering loot boxes are the big MMORPG games, such as Runecraft and World of Warcraft.
So How Does This Relate to Gambling?
Well, the first issue raised is that a huge percentage of players on these games are under-18s, who are using their parents’ credit cards to fund their hobby. You may think that is more of a problem for the parents who need to exercise control over their offspring, but it does not stop there.
Loot boxes are purchased ‘sight unseen’ meaning that the actual contents are a mystery until the box is opened. Some are viewed as valuable by the game participants, so they are often traded or sold on sites away from the game itself, for real money.
Expert researchers are claiming that this activity, even if it is not technically gambling in the true sense of the word, is a potentially an addictive pastime and can be a precursor to gambling addiction in later life.
The Gaming Industry Doesn't Agree
Meanwhile, the gaming industry remains adamant that loot boxes are in no way associated with gambling and should not be banned because the games do not offer players the option of cashing in their winnings. However, enterprising youngsters have found ways around that.
These opposing views do beg a couple of questions:
Would you describe the activity like gambling, or do you think it merely shows some initiative on the part of the young people?
So is this truly the lunatic fringe overthinking again, or are loot boxes a real threat to the future health and wealth of our children?
Although none of the ‘experts’ has chosen to bring this up specifically, there is already a massive following for betting on e-sports, particularly so on live games, which can be viewed online at most sportsbooks. Surely, there is more of a correlation between this and loot boxes than the tenuous links the scaremongers are using?
No doubt you will be reading this blog because you are a gambler yourself, whether your interest is in casinos, bingo or sports betting. Whatever your interest, you will either view the current take on loot boxes as entertaining or perhaps something you will keep an eye on if your children should happen to be gamers!
Tracy started writing for us in early 2017 and is a crucial player within our team. She’s the editor of our Blog and regularly writes other articles. Tracy’s online gambling insights are born out of years of real-world experience as a Croupier overseeing table games.