Loot boxes. Any gamer know what that means. FREE STUFF! Or is it? So, for some games you can purchase loot boxes and/or get them from completing objectives in the game. In Overwatch, you get them when you level up, get so many arcade wins, or buy them with your hard earned cash. Loot boxes can be found in other games like FIFA, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Gears of War 4, Hearthstone, League of Legends and many more. So, are they harming people? What about kids?
This is the new controversy in the U.S. However, it isn’t new around the world. Earlier this year, Belgium declared loot boxes to be gambling and therefore illegal. There are hefty fines, and jail time, that can be given. These fines can be doubled if they include the kids using these boxes. And they aren’t the only ones. Fifteen countries in Europe are looking at these boxes as gambling and now the FTC here at home is investigating as well.
The problem seems to be they are comparing loot boxes to slot machines. You have a chance to get something great or to get something worthless. While lots of loot boxes are purely cosmetic, some games do allow their loot boxes to give weapons or other things that can improve a player’s performance. Does this really seem like gambling to you? I think it’s a close line because of being able to buy the boxes with hard earned cash, but other than that I don’t see an issue.
I think there should be a difference made between the loot boxes in games like Overwatch and mobile games. I can see where mobile games are causing a problem because people are not regulating how their kids use their mobile games and are getting “addicted” to loot boxes on them. Honestly, if you don’t give a kid your credit card number to purchase them – why are you worried about a gambling addiction? I think this shouldn’t all be on the gaming industry, but also on how kids aren’t being regulated by their parents.
But.. Not my business! So onward!
So far, all the FTC has said is that they are going to investigate. They won’t reveal anything else. What does this mean? It means they will look into it and it will most likely result in some proceedings where all sides get to bring forward their case to the FTC. This may end up in rules governing loot boxes, a ban, or hopefully nothing. Right now we have to wait and hope that the games with loot boxes explain them well when queried.
It is possible that if the gaming industry itself were to come up with some rules and regulations on loot boxes, then governments wouldn’t have the need to do this. For now, all we can do is sit and wait. I will keep you up-to-date as more information comes out!