2017 was certainly an interesting year for gambling. Never in a million years did we think that there would be a discussion about whether or not loot crates in video games would be considered to be gambling.
Where did the issue come from?
This issue began when more and more video games started to offer the special boxes or “loot boxes” within the game. These were boxes that you can only purchase with real money. The purpose of these boxes was to allow players to get the opportunity to obtain special items or characters. While there were games that allowed players to get on with the game without ever purchasing a box, everything changed when Star Wars: Battlefront II was released.
This particular game was the one that broke the camel’s proverbial back so to speak. This game pretty much required its players to purchase boxes in order to get the characters that they wanted—and needed for certain missions.
Is it Gambling?
The whole idea behind gambling is players put up something of value—usually monetary—without the certainty of proper or justified exchange. Officials argued that since players (most of them children) would now have to regularly purchase these boxes in order to get characters that they wanted, it was the gateway for gambling.
If you put the definition of gambling and what Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was doing, you can probably not see much difference. This is why this topic causes so much heated debates.
While the game developers and game company that released the game are hastily but rather clumsily rectifying what they have done, the damage had be dealt. Now ever future video game that had bonus material that could be purchased will now have to undergo stricter screening to determine whether or not it is gambling! The rating system of video games is now under question on whether or not it is still valid or can accurately categorize the age appropriateness of the game itself.
It certainly opened up a lot of issues that were not there to begin with.
The whole loot crates/boxes is gambling issue certainly took everyone by surprise. Video games in general always had that element of uncertainty in the item that you could get. This was pretty much the norm. We think that the biggest difference came when people were being charged for each opportunity to grab a special item or character. We can see why the authorities would suddenly think that was gambling.
Gambling is always about risk versus reward. There is a chance that you do not get the result that you want but you still do it anyway because the feeling you get when you do win is pretty great. We all hope that game developers and game companies get a massive wake up call from this incident. Don’t mess with people’s video game experience. Stop trying to turn it into a long-term cash grab. You won’t win.