North American game rating board, the ESRB has seen the comments around loot boxes and whether they are classed as a form of gambling and decided to make a statement.
The ESRB told Kotaku
ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling. While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.
So there you have it, the ESRB feels that loot boxes are more like collectables like you would see in Panini stickers or FIFA games. Of course, you could argue that while the system is similar to card and sticker collection, you generally don’t pay $60 for a sticker book before being asked to buy more stickers. The rating board has a point too, while you might pay in, you always get something out, unlike gambling where you can come away with nothing. This probably isn’t the answer a lot of players would have liked to have seen and will still have different views on the ever-growing game mechanics.
What are your thoughts on loot boxes? Are they gambling? Are they just poorly implemented game mechanics? Is it just a phase? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
If you are outside of North America and not familiar with the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) it is an industry-funded rating board.