A glaring issue has been pointed out by the gaming community. Players observed that most games have implemented some kind of loot box system that rewards players with in-game items or other prizes. These groups have reportedly got in touch with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to possibly indicate the system as gambling in their ratings. Most players are miffed about the popular reward mechanic that seems like a pay-to-win scenario for some games, which was a common scenario among online MMORPGs in the past. However, the board declines to side with the popular opinion and cited that the reward system cannot be classified as such.

How the ESRB views loot boxes

According to their review, the loot boxes are considered as a form of optional premium digital content that includes DLCs and micro-transactions. It was implied that the “ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling.” Even though players can pay with real money to test their luck based on the game’s RNG, they are always guaranteed to receive a digital, which is likened to a collectible card scenario, wherein the players open “a pack of and get a brand new holographic card.” For now, the rating board will define them under the “Digital Purchases” category.

Furthermore, the loot system cannot fall under the gambling definition since digital items do not have intrinsic value.

It might seem like the player is wagering their actual money, but since these items are not physically available, there are no gains or losses in concept. Therefore it shall remain under the description of acquisition of digital goods. Maybe if society has accepted digital goods as a viable means of trade in the future, the concept of loot boxes would definitely be revisited and reclassified as gambling from that point on.

The gaming community has a voice

It is understandable for gamers to get frustrated regarding this form of reward system. After all, they have just spent $60 on a game, where the loot box system then actively lures players to spend more money for digital content that could have just been included from the start. It is understandably optional, but to know that some of these items provide advantages during gameplay can be annoying. On the flipside, there are users who prefer to have those options available. It might be these people do not have the time to grind out and earn these items via in-game progress.