Video Games Loot Boxes Linked to Gambling Addiction

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Gaming has been quite fun. On top of playing some of the top-notch games out there, developers have offered players to truly stand out from the crowd. Buy skins, get loot boxes and re-design your avatars so that you leave your own unique footprint on this exciting new world. But have loot boxes become just a shorthand for gambling addiction? A new study probes the probabilities of that being the case.

Bringing the Big Science Gun to a Rampant Problem

Calling loot boxes addictive sounds a bit bizarre. Let’s start with what those are first. They are digital containers that reward you in-game skins (frills that have no bearing on the gameplay whatsoever) and that have been going for as much as for $10,000 a single skin in the popular CS:GO. Of course, those that go for ten grands are the truly unique and one-of-a-kind affairs.

The majority of gamers have been happy to pry open the lid and find a $250 skin just as well. However, this may now be turning into a genuine problem. In the Netherlands, loot boxes have already been suspended as they were deemed both illegal and pernicious to gamers. Now, a new study may in fact confirm this.

Conducted by a pair of scientists, notably Dr David Zendle and Dr Paul Cairns, representing York St. John University and University of York respectively, the survey has pointed out that there are too many similarities between gambling and staking money on the outcome of what the box will contain.

Gamers, the study found, are prone to part with large amounts of money and developers can exploit behavior that could otherwise be recognized as problem gambling, were it the iGaming industry, for example. However, some studios have been arguing that their products cannot be qualifying as gambling, but rather as collectible cards or chocolate egg with toy embedded inside. None of this holds true according to the study.

Australia Keeps its Eyes on Gaming Problems

The Australian Environment and Communications Reference Committee (ECRC) has been the initiator of the study, which has found that there could be a direct co-relation between how gamers spend on loot boxes and how likely they are to become iGaming addicts.

In fact, scientific proof cited in the report links the high-spending on loot boxes to what would normally be qualified as problematic gambling. Spending such amounts of money is also another tell-tale sign that there is a gambling addiction afoot even if it’s not revealed in its purest, distilled form.

There has been a lot of resistance, too. Valve, one of the main developers to offer loot boxes, have been complacent with regulations in Belgium and the Netherlands, two places where the loot boxes have been outlawed, but they have kept a relatively high profile elsewhere.

Meanwhile, EA Games are going to bring out loot boxes in their latest iteration of the popular football franchise FIFA 19. However, the world is increasingly growing aware of the potential dangers that come hand-in-hand with spending money on chance in video games.