There’s no easy way to say that loot boxes are indeed a form of gambling, although sadly governments have yet to regulate them properly. Recently, a US senator wrote a letter to the ESRB urging them to re-look at loot boxes and regulate them so that kids don’t get into a trap of wasting money on insignificant digital items.
As reported by Ars Technica, Sen. Maggie Hassan sent a letter to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in order for them to “review the completeness of the board’s ratings process and policies as they relate to loot boxes and to take into account the potential harm these types of micro-transactions may have on children“.
In other words, she wants loot boxes to have some sort of age restriction like real gambling does. If successful, previously ‘G’ rated games like FIFA could be limited to adult gamers only if they still have loot box style features.
The ESRB has now responded to Hassan’s letter and they left to following statement to Ars Technica: “We received Senator Hassan’s letter and appreciate her confidence in and support of the ESRB rating system. For more than two decades we have earned the trust of parents around the country by helping them make informed decisions about the games their children play. As the industry evolves, so does our rating system, and we will continue to make enhancements to ensure parents continue to be well-informed. We will also continue to provide information about additional tools, including parental control guides, that help parents set spending and time limits and block potentially inappropriate games based on the ESRB-assigned age rating“.
Sadly, the ESRB did not give us a direct answer, but at least they are still investigating the issue. Hopefully loot boxes go away soon as they have been one of the most annoying features in modern video games these days.