A couple of months ago, before the video gaming community was set ablaze by the ongoing Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box controversy, the ESRB declared that loot boxes aren't gambling. Since then, various government entities all over the world have started investigating loot boxes, and in some cases, have made the distinction that loot boxes are in fact a form of gambling. This has led to widespread media coverage on loot boxes, and now the ESA, the entity that created the ESRB, has released a statement on the matter.
Unsurprisingly, the ESA continues to insist that loot boxes aren't a form of gambling. Of course, it's worth noting that the ESA is comprised of almost all the major video game publishers, which are the companies currently profiting from loot boxes in video games. With that potential conflict of interest in mind, here is what the ESA has to say about the loot box controversy:
"Loot boxes are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences. They are not gambling. Depending on the game design, some loot boxes are earned and others can be purchased. In some games, they have elements that help a player progress through the video game. In others, they are optional features and are not required to progress or succeed in the game. In both cases, the gamer makes the decision."
Some may agree with the ESA's assessment, but others may take issue with it. Clearly there are some authorities that disagree with the ESA's assertion that loot boxes aren't gambling, such as the government of Belgium as well as representatives from the state of Hawaii. If these anti-loot box entities introduce legislation that bans the sale of video games with loot boxes to minors, then the ESA's stance may ultimately not matter.
It's clear that the loot box controversy is far from over. There seems to be a new development every day, if not multiple times a day, as more agencies speak out in favor of or against loot boxes in video games. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if legislation is introduced that regulates the use of loot boxes in video games or if gamers are overreacting, as one Wall Street analyst has claimed.
Source: Rolling Stone