Loot crates don't class as gambling to video game rating boards

ESRB loot boxes

Loot boxes, to them, are more akin to trading cards and collectible packs that always deliver some assortment of items, whether or not these items are the ones expected by the player.

ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling. While the North American Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) maintains that any games that officially contain gambling will receive an "Adults Only" rating, which is 18+ years of age, Destiny 2 and Star Wars contain the Teen rating, suitable for those 13-years-old or more, while Shadow of War is closer to the mark with its Mature rating, meant for 17+.

With games like Overwatch, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and even the soon-tob-released games Call of Duty: WWII and Star Wars Battlefront II all featuring loot boxes of some kind, it's safe to say that this latest gaming trend is here to stay. For now, the rating board will define them under the "Digital Purchases" category.

Only a handful of Asian nations have classed loot boxes as gambling, though the U.S. has considered legislating skin gambling: an industry fueled by loot box buys. The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with United Kingdom law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year's Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming. 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.

However, better items might be restricted to players who pay for them.

Are loot boxes a form of gambling? Mobile games often use this model: they provide a free basic game but in order to have a better experience and unlock more items, the player must pay for boxes of items - a model known as "freemium" play.

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. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box. "While there's an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don't want)", an ESRB representative told Kotaku.



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