According to The House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, academic research has proved the connection between, the polemic micro-transaction model often referred to as loot boxes and gambling. This is a pretty big deal for developers who features loot-boxes as an essential way of monetization in games targeted for young audiences.
According to the UK legislation, “It is illegal for any child under 16 years old to take part in any form of commercial gambling”.
“There is academic research which proves that there is a connection, though not necessarily a causal link, between loot box spending and problem gambling,” the report states. “We echo the conclusions of the Children’s Commissioner’s report, that if a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling.”
“The liberalization of gambling by the Gambling Act 2005, the universal adoption of smartphones, and the exploitation of soft-touch regulation by gambling operators has created a perfect storm of addictive 24/7 gambling.”
The loot-boxes has been a very problematic topic for the industry, developers are making a fortune by exploiting the psychology behind gambling. Most of all senses are said to be stimulated when a player tries their chances with a loot-box. While this might be fine for the adult players, the problem lies that most of the games that feature the polemic micro-transaction are targeted for a young, especially vulnerable audience.
After the success of loot-boxes, scrupulousness game producers are designing their games to rely on micro-transactions, the commonly known term, pay-to-win, is a perfect example of games like FIFA, where players start with a modest team but can build a dream team with some hundred dollars and some luck.
Back in April, the ESRB announced a new description targeted for games with loot boxes. The new interactive element is called the ‘In-Game Purchases’, it will warn parents and buyers when a game offers the ability to purchase additional items without leaving the game. Something that at least helps parents to be informed if the game has some kind of monetization scheme, by knowing this fact beforehand, is up to buyers to investigate if the game is a pay-to-win game that would ostracize a kid who does not pour money into the game.
Epic Games’ founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney has also openly discussed the implication of loot-boxes, according to him Facebook and Google are harming the customers.
“We have businesses that profit by doing their customers harm,” … “Facebook and Google have been one of the leaders in this… They provide free services then make you pay for their service in loss of privacy and loss of freedom.”
”We have to ask ourselves, as an industry, what we want to be when we grow up. Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines … or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes.”
Source: UK Parliament