Loot boxes. What are they and are they legal?

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In the gaming world, things are progressing rather rapidly. We now have something called a Loot Box. This is a virtual item in video games that players can receive other virtual items for their own benefit in the game being played.

A loot box is usually some form of video game monetization. This is so that the creators and publishers can generate revenue.

This infamous loot box has however caused quite a bit of controversy globally with many comparing it to gambling addiction. Many video game designs are incorporated with compulsion loops.

This is essentially the repetitive nature of most games and keeps the player constantly trying to achieve his next goal. For example, the player performs a task and gets rewarded by positive reinforcement or proceeds to the next level, which is then usually repeated.

It is known that the player most often becomes more ambitious to complete the next task and proceed to the next stage which soon leads to a video game addiction.

in game - Loot boxes. What are they and are they legal?

With a player now hooked to the game, they are more willing and more likely to invest financially in furthering their progress in the game. Unfortunately, the player doesn’t always receive the in-game item they desired prompting them to purchase more loot boxes.

People all over the world may be up in arms about loot boxes but their legal status still remains undecided. The Netherlands and Belgium have expressed that some loot boxes violate their laws with regards to gambling but they have not yet passed any law against the virtual item.

In China, however, a law that prohibited virtual Lottery tickets has now removed the possibilities of buying loot boxes in some games. There are ways to get around it though, for instance, developers have presented it as receiving a loot box gift when purchasing in-game items.

Slot Video Game - Loot boxes. What are they and are they legal?

Australia has taken a different approached by doing a study on young people and finding that the effects of loot boxes are similar to gambling. It was recommended that games with loot boxes sport a warning label but so far, no laws have been passed banning them.

With all the chaos surrounding loot boxes, it is still uncertain to many where its legal status stands and for many countries, it is yet to be determined. Most of the debate surrounding them are stemmed from real money value and publisher profits.

Playing Video Game - Loot boxes. What are they and are they legal?

Should the in-game items be transferable to other players making them commodities then the game automatically takes out that fearful gambling issue? Some games do operate this way but are not advertised clearly.

It is argued that the player never loses with loot boxes, that they always receive a gift whereas with slots or blackjack the gambler more often than not walks away empty handed. Overall games should state clearly what in-game purchases are necessary and ultimately it is up to the player to know when to purchase or not.

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