Loot Boxes have long been the subject of controversy, so much so that a number of countries have already placed restrictions or regulations on games selling Loot Boxes, including Belgium banning them entirely in 2018. Now, new research has been carried out in the UK that has drawn a link between Loot Boxes and gambling.
The research has been carried out as a collaboration between The University of Plymouth and The University of Wolverhampton in the UK, and commissioned by Gamble Aware. Named “Lifting the Lid on Loot-Boxes”, the research highlights some worrying information regarding loot boxes and those who purchase them.
Around 5% of Loot Box purchasers account for approximately half of the revenue generated from Loot Boxes
Twelve out of 13 studies on the topic have established “unambiguous” connections to problem gambling behaviour
Young people, especially young men, are at a particular risk:
“Whilst our data does not extend to children, we know that many consumers of loot boxes are children,
with studies estimating that around 25-50% of children and adolescents have opened a loot box7,8,75,78.
If harms are associated with loot boxes, these harms are liable to disproportionately affect children,
adolescents and young people – possibly compounding other related problems, such as problem
gambling or problem video gaming.”
The report makes numerous recommendations regarding what should be done from a legislative point of view about Loot Boxes. This includes having precise definitions for what will be regulated, age ratings, odds disclosures, real world currency values and others. With a number of voices in the UK calling for regulations on Loot Boxes, and the UK Parliament having launched a call for evidence on the subject in 2020, it seems likely that some form of regulation will eventually be enacted that will affect Loot Boxes in the UK.