The loot box debacle seems to have no end and now even the ESRB have weighed in on the drama. According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, loot boxes and their murky marketing isn’t considered a form of gambling.
While I haven’t seen a lot of people directly calling it that, I have seen and heard the association between the two in the past. Forking out cash for unknown items may seem like a gamble for some, while others see it more like a lucky packet. The ESRB, in this instance, feels it’s the latter.
“ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling. 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). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”
I agree with their statement, even though I think loot boxes terrible for games and a complete waste of money.
My first encounter with them was way back when playing Mass Effect 3’s online multiplayer. You didn’t need to pay for them, but if you didn’t want to grind, you could buy them. I wasn’t always a fan of the random picks, but I never spent cash on it.
Having said that, I have purchased cosmetic items in the past and dug into various microtransactions. In a few cases I did buy weapons to gain an advantage online, specifically The Last of Us. The difference here is that I knew what I would get. A loot box just isn’t worth the risk if you ask me.