Video game ‘loot boxes’ should be classified as a form of gambling according to a new report published by MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
The House of Commons committee has been looking at the growing use of loot boxes by games publishers as part of its investigation into immersive and addictive technologies and has heard from anti-gambling campaigners, games developers and other stakeholders.
Loot boxes often provide additional weapons, power-ups and other perks which can aid the player’s progress through the game and can give them an advantage over others in multiplayer titles.
While popular with many players, in recent years there’s been growing concern that they encourage some players to spend excessive amounts. The Pogg, a site that reviews casinos, has explored this in some detail in their article Blurred Lines and Loot Boxes.
Today’s report says the boxes are increasingly “integral to major games companies’ revenues” and calls for those sold for real-world money but which fail to reveal their contents prior to purchase to be classified as games of chance and regulated by the Gambling Act.
The Committee also calls for the sale of loot boxes to children to be banned and for games companies to accept responsibility for “addictive gaming disorders” caused by their products.
Chair Damian Collins MP said: “Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers.
“Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up. We challenge the Government to explain why loot boxes should be exempt from the Gambling Act.”