As loot boxes have continued to appear in more and more video games over the years, many have suggested (perhaps without any proof) that the randomized objects essentially promote gambling. Over time, some have started to do more research into these claims to see if troublesome gambling habits and loot boxes really can be tied to one another. As it turns out, the assertion seems to be spot on.
According to new research that has come about from UK-based schools University of Plymouth and University of Wolverhampton, it was discovered that loot boxes are "structurally and psychologically akin to gambling." The research was pushed for by the GambleAware charity and found that a large number of children are the exposed to the practices of loot boxes. The data specifically asserts that of the 93% of children that play video games, roughly 40% of them have been exposed to loot boxes and opened them at one time.
What's perhaps most staggering comes in regards to those who are spending the most on loot boxes. The research says that a mere 5% of video game players spending about half of all money that is generated by loot box sales. What's even worse is that those who are spending this money aren't necessarily quite wealthy, like one might think upon first hearing this information. "Our research therefore demonstrates that games developers, unwittingly or not, appear to be generating outsized loot box profits from at-risk individuals (these are likely to include both people with gambling problems or problematic patterns of video gaming) - but not from wealthy gamers," the report stated. Those who do fall into this 5% are also estimated to spend around $100 per month on loot boxes.
As for what will happen moving forward, this research is going to be presented to government officials in the UK. "It is now for politicians to review this research, as well as the evidence of other organisations, and decide what legislative and regulatory changes are needed to address these concerns," said GambleAware's had Zoe Osmond. Depending on what politicians may decide, loot boxes could then fall under gambling laws that are already in place within the region.
Within recent years, loot boxes have definitely stopped being as prominent in many popular video games, primarily because of the push back they have received at a high level such as this. It remains to be seen what will happen in this specific instance moving forward, but we'll share any new developments with you if they come about.