According to Statista, a statistics portal that combines information from more than 22,500 sources, nearly 200 million people in the United States play video games; a growing concern has been placed on video game addiction, but now there’s something inside these video games that is getting scrutinized – loot boxes. The Rolling Stone claims that loot boxes are also known as prize crates, downloadable content, expansions, and microtransactions that occur within a game that a person is playing. Now government officials are concerned that these loot boxes may be a form of gambling, as players pay small amounts of money to see what they get.
Many companies will construct several different winning items from loot boxes just to get the player to keep spending money while in the game. These winning outcomes could include more play time, cosmetic items for their character in the game, and even items that could enhance a player’s skills and could increase their chances at winning. Smartphone games have used this previously because it has posed less of a risk, but video game companies have been monetizing on these same efforts as well.
Forbes Magazine states that a day after Hawaii announced they were requiring clear labels on loot-boxed games and were restricting the sale of these games to anyone under the age of 21, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan became concerned and wanted the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to investigate this issue further. Questions arose from the Senator regarding whether loot boxes are priming children who play video games for addiction and whether something needed to be done about that or not.
The ESRB responded stating that loot boxes are not considered gambling to them, but the Senator has asked they re-evaluate their response. Hassan stated,
“While there is robust debate over whether loot boxes should be considered gambling, the fact that they are both expensive habits and use similar psychological principles suggest loot boxes should be treated with extra scrutiny.”
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