Those who play games on the modern internet should know the one of the well-known feature, and one of the most-anticipated consumable called 'loot box'.
In video games, loot boxes are also called 'prize crate', or simply as 'loot'. They are consumable virtual items which can be redeemed to receive randomized selection of further virtual items, or even more loots, ranging from simple customization options for a player's avatar or character, to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armor.
Originated from massively multiplayer online role-playing games, loot box is practically a form of monetization by the the developers, especially in mobile games that are free to play.
And here, according to the UK committee, these loot boxes should be considered a form of gambling.
The UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee released their conclusions from their investigation into addictive game mechanics. While the report not solely focused on games or loot boxes, the committee firmly condemns the use of such mechanics, in spite of attempts by gaming developers to spin them the other way.
The committee’s findings concluded that, for all the attempts by the gaming industry to spin the situation another way, loot boxes are considered gambling.
"We consider loot boxes that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance to be games of chance played for money’s worth."
For that reason, the committee suggested that the government should bring forward regulations under section 6 of the Gambling Act 2005, to specify that loot boxes are a game of chance.
Loot box mechanics are integral to major games companies’ revenues. Here, the committee said this is a clear evidence that the developers are profiting from problem gamblers. So this, according to the committee, should be a a serious concern to the industry.
Apple and Google already mandate such disclosures on the their respective app store, and so did Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony that have all committed to mandate loot box odds disclosures on their platforms by the end of 2020.
And the committee here, aims to join them, as well as the nations that are already condemning loot boxes. But at this time, none has done anything to actually take action against them.
In respond, the Entertainment Software Association issued a strongly-worded disagreement with the committee’s decision, saying that:
"As demonstrated by the recent announcement of policies regarding the disclosure of the relative rarity or probability of obtaining virtual items in paid loot boxes as well as the robust parental controls that empower parents to control in-game purchases, the video game industry is a leader in partnering with parents and players to create enjoyable video game experiences."
The announcement of policies the ESA statement references was made in August 2018, during the Federal Trade Commission's day-long workshop on consumer issues surrounding loot boxes.