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The ESRB rules that in-game loot boxes are not gambling

ESRB Loot Boxes.jpg

Well gamers, we can officially say that we are screwed. The ESRB, the firm responsible for making sure that our games are rated, and they are fairly judged and does not contain things that might take advantage of gamers, have now called this recent issue in gaming, loot boxes, not gambling. If anything, the ESRB could have easily gone on a rant and complained that when you spend real money on a box that might contain random loot, it is indeed gambling. 

In an email sent to Kotaku, a spokesperson from the ESRB wrote that:

“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 collectable 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.”

So what is gambling to the ESRB then? Well, to clear the air the ESRB sees gambling as any sort of wagering involving real cash while loot boxes, also known as "Simulated Gambling" to the ESRB, is different as gamers are not wagering cash against a chance of content. rather they buy currency that does that. See how the developers have found a way around this? 

Games like Destiny 2, Shadow of War, and even Battlefront 2 contain ways to buy currency which then lets you unlock specific loot boxes for a chance of certain skins, weapons and other in-game items. The ESRB would immediately rate a game "Adults Only" if the in-game purchases are done with real money rather than with currency bought with real money. The issue here is that if this was the case many retailers would refuse to sell the game as an A-O (Adults Only) rating does not go down well in retail. 

The ESRB does, however, have a "Digital Purchases" category that is added to any game that contains loot-boxes or other in-game purchases. In a nutshell, this means that we will not be winning the war to get these loot box ridden games classed as gambling anytime soon. What do you think about this whole situation? Let us know in the comments below.

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