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UK Petition to Call Loot Boxes Gambling by Law

UK Petition to Call Loot Boxes Gambling by Law

Love them or hate them, loot boxes are a contentious issue in the videogame industry. Many notable critics, including Jim Sterling, AngryJoe, and TotalBiscuit have been highly critical of the system, spurred on by recent revelations that titles such as Star Wars Battlefront II and Middle-earth: Shadow of War will be following in the footsteps of Overwatch and including micro-transactions and loot boxes.

They, along with many others critics and gamers alike, have likened loot boxes to playing slot machines in a casino, describing them as a highly addictive form of gambling. The similarities are definitely there: paying real world money to test your luck and hopefully receive some high level loot (aka "the jackpot") rather than a dirge of largely useless, filler items (aka the "small wins").

Now, a petition has been started to label loot boxes as gambling under UK law in order to reduce the negative impact they can have on gamers, in particular those who may be vulnerable to addictive behaviour. If you wish to sign the petition, you can do so here (though you must be a UK citizen).

 

Andrew Wowk

Andrew Wowk

Staff Writer

Is often asked if people should "Wowk this way".

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COMMENTS

--1507737666
--1507737666 - 05:02pm, 11th October 2017

I actually agree with this and will sign. If they are boxes that you can pay real money to open for a chance at a decent item then it seems to pretty much for the definition of gambling.

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Monday Wood
Monday Wood - 05:06pm, 11th October 2017

Yes

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--1507744034
--1507744034 - 06:48pm, 11th October 2017

What a crock of crap. Why not make Kinder Surprise gambling as well? You made a bad purchase to buy something that you'll never hold in your hands and now are mad you can't sell it for a profit. It's not gambling, you're just a stupid knob

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Adam-Kelso
Adam-Kelso - 08:53pm, 11th October 2017

I’m afraid I kind of agree with this. Gambling is different because you either win or go home with empty pockets. With loot boxes, you know you’re not guaranteed to get what you want, but at the end of the day, you’re still paying and getting something in return. It’s not like you open a loot box and it’s empty! 

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Wowky
Wowky - 12:36am, 12th October 2017 Author

"Gambling is the wagering of money or something of value (referred to as "the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning money or material goods. Gambling thus requires three elements be present: consideration, chance and prize."

This is basically loot boxes in a nutshell. It may not be "gambling" in the classical sense of the term where you can win/lose money, but you are essentially wagering something of value (your money) on an event with an uncertain outcome (what's in the box) primarily with the intent of winning material goods (in-game items).

I disagree with the reasoning that "you know you're not guaranteed to get what you want in loot boxes" making it not a form of gambling - that is literally in the definition of gambling. 

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Adam-Kelso
Adam-Kelso - 08:16am, 12th October 2017

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of loot boxes, I just think slapping the ‘gambling’ label on them is a slippery slope. Before we know it, games with them in will all have to be 18 rated, because let’s face it, companies make so much money from them they’re not going to remove them. I think I saw something like Activision made 3billion from them last year.

Trading cards, football stickers, its all the same if you ask me, you get that dopamine hit of desire. It’s marketing 101. And while £1000s can be slapped on them, you have to ask yourself what sort of child has that sort of money to spend on them!? And if they’re using dads money, blame Dad for being such an unobservant dick.  The ERSB has said pretty much the same thing http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2017-10-11-loot-boxes-arent-gambling-esrb. I can see where you’re coming from, I just think we have to be careful what we wish for 

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Wowky
Wowky - 12:40am, 12th October 2017 Author

Kinder Surprise technically is gambling. The main difference between Kinder Surprise and Loot Boxes however is that it's much, much easier to drop $1000 on Loot Boxes due to impulse control problems than it is to buy $1000 worth of Kinder Surprises in one sitting.

It has nothing to do with "being mad you can't sell it for a profit" and everything to do with following the law. The petition is not saying that we should remove Loot Boxes from games altogether, though some critics do believe that (on grounds other than just the gambling one, including balancing gameplay). It is simply saying they should follow the same rules as everyone else. Put an age barrier, or a warning on the rating. We rate games for violence, course language, drug use, sexual content, etc. Why not also gambling?

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Ike
Ike - 09:29pm, 11th October 2017

The products of a loot box have no intrinsic value. For something to be gambling, it's required that the products of the "gamble" have intrinsic value and cause the "gambler" quantifiable financial gain or loss

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Gargontara
Gargontara - 10:44pm, 11th October 2017

Irony is that Asian games that feature loot boxes in the form of gachas/gachapons aren't even as insidious as Western games on such a level thanks to the fact it's free to begin with. Also, Pokémon removed their slot machines because some Western countries deemed that aspect akin to gambling.

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Adam-Kelso
Adam-Kelso - 08:19am, 12th October 2017

I’m no expert, but I would imagine the slot machine thing is probably because it resembles an actual form of gambling. 

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Mister Woot
Mister Woot - 01:20pm, 13th October 2017

The few Gachas I've seen that have made it to the west (looking at you Dragon's Prophet in particular) have ended up even worse than the lootboxes thanks to the currency used to buy the Gachas ending up being purchasable for cash too.

It's good to know that it's not the developers in the East that are causing it though.

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