Games used to have an upfront cost with no further additional purchases required to complete a game
Many games are now actually free to start with
Players are encouraged to make in game purchases to enhance and improve game play through the purchase of a LOOT BOX
Where players pay real money to 'open' a virtual box and at the point of purchase do not know the value of what they are getting.
These virtual items can take on different forms, such as weapons, armour, in‐game abilities or skills, and aesthetic items (commonly referred to as skins).
These items range in value. Some may be new items that allow players to progress in game or are highly sought after, while others are common and undesirable
Many consider loot boxes to be gambling as players are using real money to make micro-transactions based on chance but as a player cannot 'allegedly' cash out winnings they are currently not covered by gambling regulations
There are currently no age restrictions on the purchase of loot boxes
It is estimated that over $30 billion dollars are spent on loot boxes world wide
A recent report commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission found that as many as 31% of children aged 11-15 had opened a loot box
Skins are rewards from loot boxes and are cosmetic items that are designed to improve a players appearance
Many skins are worthless - rarer skins are more valuable
Skins can be converted into virtual gambling chips on third party websites and used in casino style games to win more 'valuable' skins or real money
Dr. David Zendle is a media effects specialist and a lecturer at the University of York. He is an expert on the convergence of video games and gambling, and is the lead author of several key references on the topic of loot boxes. Dr. Zendle has provided oral testimony to a variety of government investigations into video game effects, including the recent DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into Immersive and Addictive Technologies. His research was extensively cited in the findings of this inquiry, which recommended the regulation of video game loot boxes as a form of gambling. He continues to actively contribute to discussions regarding video game policy across the globe.
"Spending money on loot boxes is connected to problem gambling. The more money people spend on loot boxes, the more severe their problem gambling is. If loot boxes do cause problem gambling then we’re looking at an epidemic of problem gambling the scale of which the world has never seen."
Many games have an element of non-monetary gambling
Players can experience the thrill of gambling through gambling virtual currency
Players are then incentivized to spend real money for a 'greater' reward
Many non- gambling games contain gambling related adverts
A recent study from the University of Cardiff found that almost half of 11-16 year olds admitted to have been involved in some form of gambling
It is reported that almost half a million children in England and Wales are gambling regularly, with about 55,000 estimated to have a serious problem