ESRB Does Not Consider Loot Boxes to Be Gambling

From IGN - October 12, 2017
By Steve Watts

The Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) has waded into the recent conversation surrounding loot boxes, saying the mechanic does not fulfill its criteria for using gambling as a game descriptor.

"ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling," a spokesperson for the organization told IGN. The rest of the company's statement reads:

"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 do not want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you will open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you have had your eye on for a while. But other times you will end up with a pack of cards you already have.

"Should there be any gambling or gambling related mechanics in a game, ESRB assigns one of twocontent descriptorsas part of the rating: Simulated Gambling (player can simulate gambling without betting or wagering real cash or currency) and Real Gambling (player can actually gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency). If there is any real gambling in a game or app it will always receive an Adults Only rating."

Players have raised concerns about the use of loot boxes in recent games likeStar Wars Battlefront 2 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, specifically over the worry that the gameplay benefits of loot boxes could veer too far toward a "pay-to-win" strategy. Destiny 2 faced similar scrutiny over its own microtransaction system for cosmetic items, but the perception of real gameplay advantages has been particularly controversial.


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