Loot boxes have been a source of controversy in the gaming industry over the last few years, and some have gone so far as to label them a form of gambling. A lot of gamers are torn on whether or not to classify them as such, but the UK government wants to know where "video games players and adults responsible for children and young people who play video games" stand on the issue. As such, the government has opened up a survey to get a clearer picture on the overall issue. The survey can be found right here, and those interested in participating can do so until November 22nd.
For the uninitiated, a loot box is an item in a video game that can be purchased, but the consumer is unaware of what's inside. While loot boxes tend to be viewed as more acceptable in free-to-play games, gamers have taken issue with them in full-priced games. The most glaring example is Star Wars: Battlefront II. When the game released back in 2017, players were stunned to discover that purchasing loot boxes could give those with more money to spend a distinct advantage. The blowback was so extreme that EA temporarily removed all loot boxes from the game, and when they returned, they only featured cosmetic options, rather than ones that had an impact on gameplay.
Given the controversy that has surrounded loot boxes, it's not surprising to see governments looking to learn more about the practice. Interestingly enough, the survey is looking for publishers, developers, and analysts to chime in, as well. It seems like the UK government is doing its due diligence to get a variety of opinions on the practice before it takes any steps regarding potential regulation.
It will be interesting to see how participants in the survey respond! On one hand, it's easy to see how loot boxes could prove addictive. Some might argue that loot boxes aren't any different from opening a pack of trading cards, but the virtual nature of loot boxes makes it easier to make repeat purchases, and this can be especially problematic when it's a kid using an adult's credit card.
Do you think loot boxes constitute a form of gambling? Should there be stronger regulations against their use in video games? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk about all things gaming!