Loot Boxes Aren't Considered Gambling by the ESRB

Loot Boxes Aren't Considered Gambling by the ESRB

"But other times you'll end up with a pack of cards you already have". But nope, not going to happen as the ESRB doesn't see it as a form of gambling at all. Not only do they need to shell out the $60 price tag for an A-list game, but they also have to pay for a subscription service premium to play online and then spend more on top to gain rare items so they can remain competitive in the game.

This is significant because ESRB guidelines state any game with "real gambling" - that is, any wagering with real-life cash - is automatically rated AO (Adults Only).

Over the past few weeks, as randomized loot boxes have dominated the conversation surrounding this fall'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.

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The video, which has garnered thousands of views, was posted on Jessica Stipe's Facebook page Monday night. The video had 250,000 views and almost 4,000 shares on Facebook as of Wednesday.

The ESRB replied to Kotaku with the following statement: "ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling". It's not even up to rating boards as to what is classed as gambling, as "this is defined by national gambling laws", Bosmon continues.

Games which are rated for teens and younger children often include an option to pay real money for the chance to win in-game items, and this very modern form of monetizing additional content is falling through a regulation gap in the USA and Europe. A couple of games have put this poor practice in the spotlight recently - igniting a debate on whether loot boxes, especially ones that have the potential to effect gameplay and can be purchased with real money - should be considered gambling. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box. YouTube personality John Bain, aka Total Biscuit, warned that the upcoming Star Wars Battlefield II game allows real money gambling for loot boxes - but will be released with a Teen rating. Even though players can pay with real money to test their luck based on the game's RNG, they are always guaranteed to receive a digital, which is likened to a collectible card scenario, wherein the players open "a pack of and get a brand new holographic card".

Regardless, loot box systems like this - systems that give random outcomes in exchange for money - still trigger those same feelings that make more traditional gambling appealing. Loot boxes are an entirely different beast.

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