The legal definition of gambling requires three elements to be present: consideration, chance, and a prize. The former generally refers to the process of betting something of value, usually money, to trigger an event with an unknown outcome. The gambler plays in the hope of winning a particular prize, while there is a huge chance of coming out empty handed.

The last point is where things get a bit tricky when it comes to Loot Boxes. Over the last few months, publishers like Warner Bros. and EA have received a ton of heat for their implementation of randomized reward systems in "Middle-Earth: Shadow of War" and the beta for "Star Wars Battlefront 2."

No alternative option is a problem

"Battlefront 2" is receiving criticism for locking any type of progression behind a loot box system.

In a game which is heavily dependent on multiplayers, someone's equipment directly impacts how much they enjoy their time with it. Any upgrade requires tons of crafting material, which might or might not drop as randomized loot.

Weapons, armor, character power-ups, and skins are not easy to attain, requiring a ton of grinding to be able to progress. While that can be fun in and of itself, the beta constantly pushes the player back to the market, where real money can be spent to buy loot boxes.

Is this gambling? Of course, it is. The ESRB recently explained that in their view this act is not gambling, which is clearly disputable. ESRB feels that since the player always receives something from the boxes, then they are not really gambling.The thing is that there is no way to know what you are getting and whether the items are even worth anything for your character.

By definition, gambling is spending money with the chance of receiving something of value, with the risk of suffering a loss. Getting another item does not cover your loss, as a player could still walk away empty handed.

EA has implemented loot box systems regularly in their sports games, with "FIFA's" Ultimate Team being a prime example.

Card packs are randomized and money can be spent to buy them. The main difference between this and "Battlefront 2" is that the latter has no alternative way to purchase the desired item. "FIFA" has a huge trading market where in-game credit can be spent to purchase better players. There is no need to buy booster packs.

The new "Star Wars" beta lacks that alternative, instead constantly pushing the player to the loot boxes.

Loot boxes are not the problem

"Diablo," "Borderlands" and many other games offer a great randomized loot system that helps add replayability. Loot boxes are not necessarily the problem, it is the way they are being used to push players to spend more and more money. "Battlefront 2" is the first full priced game that overly punishes players for not buying loot boxes, ensuring that people who are willing to spend are always ahead.