According to the most recent estimates, the global gaming market has a value of around $162 billion, with experts claiming that it will almost double in size in the next five years. With more than 2.8 billion gamers across the globe, it seems like there is no stopping this pastime from breaking records year on year. Naturally, high-quality gaming products are not the only reason why this industry is booming. In-game purchases that offer customization options have also played a massive role. One such controversial invention is loot boxes, which are random in-game prizes sold for a price.

Many argue that this concept is eerily similar to gambling at credible online UK and non GameStop casinos. They see purchasing loot boxes as a gateway for young people with addictive personalities to begin partaking in activities that demand impulse control. Something that many at the early stages of life do not possess. Thus, options differ on this matter. Some claim that loot boxes are harmless fun, while others believe that they introduce young gamers to the world of online gambling and all the dangers it brings.

Loot Boxes Explained

In short, Loot boxes are mystery bundles of video game virtual items. Players can attain such items as a gameplay reward, or they can buy them using real money. Loot boxes differ from other categories of in-game purchases because players do not know the contents of a box before they buy it. Hence, the gambling analogy regarding playing at some premium UK and betting sites not on GamStop. The box’s loot is random, entirely down to Lady Luck, a player’s good fortune.

For example, an Overwatch loot box may contain unique character clothing. That is merely an aesthetic upgrade. However, there may be items inside it that can alter a specific title’s gameplay. Their allure lies in the possibility of acquiring something rare that will enhance a player’s overall gaming experience. The items available via these boxes can let players progress through game levels more swiftly. Purchasing more expensive crates does not offer a higher chance of attaining super scarce items. 

The Gacha Model

Gachapons are Japanese vending machines that dispense capsule toys. They have served as the basis for the gacha model, a mobile gaming genre that utilizes a concept similar to loot boxes. Gacha games are mainly free to play, but they incentivize players to spend real money to receive virtual items. Essentially, in gacha games, the goal is to collect digital assets through something called rolling, which is more-or-less gambling. In these games, some items can only get obtained through a gacha mechanism. That involves pulling a gacha, analogous to pressing spin at an online slot at UK gaming platforms or sites not on GamStop. Since some of the rewards have a lower chance to get claimed, players continue spending money to spin the gacha many times over to get their desired prize.

While these products are generally free to play, those that opt not to spend money will face gameplay limitations that make their gaming experience less enjoyable.

Collectible Card Games

In 1993, Magic: The Gathering introduced the world to collectible card games which featured strategic deck-building elements. In this gaming genre, a player begins his adventure with a starter deck. He then can customize it to his liking by trading cards with others and acquiring booster packs, thereby building up his card catalog. Though digital collectible games have been around since the 1990s, they only recently began to blow up in popularity, with titles like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Online dominating this niche. Out of the Park Baseball is an established choice for sports card fanatics.

The collectible card model also prays upon people’s urges to complete a collection. They want to do so to become more competitive in gameplay scenarios. Everyone can enjoy these card games for free, but to attain a high level in them quicker, requires spending money. Card purchases and trades can also get made on secondary markets. Gaming intelligence group SuperData believes that the digital card market is worth around $2 billion.

Are Loot Boxes Similar to Gambling?

Yes. The reward mechanism utilized by loot boxes is super similar to the one in slots and other RNG-based gaming products on offer at UKGC-licensed gambling sites and casinos not using GameStop. In all honesty, there is little that differentiates loot boxes from casino-style gambling. Players get a chance to win a prize by putting up their money, which can range in value. They also have the opportunity to sell their loot box rewards at third-party auction platforms. Many do so, driven by the temptation to use their newly acquired auction funds to buy more boxes, hoping that they will attain even rarer prizes.

How Do Loot Boxes Get Regulated?

Naturally, each country has its way of looking at loot boxes, going by their cultural preferences and up-to-date legislation. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and China, they are either totally illegal or severely restricted. However, in North America and most of Europe, they are legal, as these territories believe that it is up to consumers to decide if these purchases are something they want to get or avoid.

Ireland is currently looking to regulate loot boxes, while the UK looks at them the same as casinos not on GamBan. Therefore, everyone is free to explore them as an option without fear of prosecution. The Gambling Act of 2005 does not cover them, so the UKGC has no regulatory power to oversee their trade. Researchers at the universities of Wolverhampton and Plymouth believe that loot boxes are structurally akin to gambling and that the UK government should regulate them. GambleAware recently posted a survey that showed that out of 93% of kids that play video games, 40% at one time have opened a loot box.

Final Thoughts

Even though loot boxes aim to be a bit of harmless fun, the line between them and gambling is thin. As with any other in-game purchase, there is tremendous potential for children and adult players to rack up massive costs within their favorite games while striving to be more competitive. It is no secret that developers use psychological nudges that encourage gamers to spend money on loot boxes, inducing panic that they may miss out on limited-time offers. So, everyone should practice proper impulse control when considering buying these virtual treasure troves.


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