Lootoxen in video games have now been identified by many developers or publishers as a lucrative source of income. Again and again, however, criticism is leveled. One reason: Some industry experts attribute loot boxes and their randomness to gambling. 

Some countries, including Belgium, have cracked down on games where loot boxes were available for purchase in the past. One of the most prominent examples was the dispute with Electronic Arts over the sports game FIFA. In the end, the publisher caved in: Loot boxes in FIFA were no longer available. In Germany, too, there is always criticism of loot boxes.

Loot boxes: rip off or fun?

The sale of the "loot boxes" is lucrative for game providers: Small amounts of a few euros can easily be lured out of the pockets of fans, while developers and publishers make big money in the long term. On the one hand, loot boxes are mass products and, as virtual goods, ideal for multiple purchases. The reason: the content divided by rarity is distributed randomly. Players do not know what they are buying beforehand when purchasing a loot box. Although the makers now indicate how great the probability of a more valuable "win" is, you can't influence that with the loot boxes. Commonly, this would be called gambling, which many critics of loot boxes do. Paradoxically, the gambling industry itself is much more transparent with its offers: here it is not concealed what a game of chance is - rather it is about filtering out reputable gambling providers - for example in the area of Live casinos.

With the loot boxes, on the other hand, it is not always clear what players can expect - not only in terms of content, but also in terms of the legal situation. In any case, critics see the loot boxes as a classic gambling concept and call for it to be anchored in a legal framework. The identified danger: children, adolescents and young adults in particular could be encouraged to make purchases by playing with chance or even sucked into a veritable buying spiral. There is a psychological effect behind this: the prospect of valuable rewards.

Shooters in particular offer loot boxes, including

  • Apex Legends
  • Battlefield 1
  • Call of Duty (CoD)
  • Clash of Clans & Clash Royale
  • Counter-Strike (CS:GO)
  • Destiny 2
  • FIFA
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • League of Legends (LoL)
  • NBA 2K21
  • Overwatch
  • Players Unknown's Battleground (PUBG)

For their "investment" in a loot box, players will receive a box with unknown contents. If you land a hit, there is a good chance that more money will be put into further purchases. And if you don't land a meeting and pull an item out of the box that is useless for you, you want to iron out the "mistake" by making additional purchases. In the worst case, an addiction develops around the loot boxes. The reward center in the human brain is stimulated, so loot boxes are also an issue with regard to biological mechanisms.

Another major point of contention in the debate about loot boxes in Germany is availability: the loot boxes are usually used in video games that are otherwise free to play, so-called Free-2-play games. The temptation to spend a few euros after all, because you don't have to pay anything else for the game, is therefore great. This is especially true for younger fans who cannot fully assess the consequences of their actions. Parents are therefore automatically involved in the dispute over loot boxes. It is not uncommon for them not to know which titles their children are playing - there is then no trace of any possibilities for intervention. There are cases in which the uncontrolled buying behavior of children is only noticed on the bank statement, the credit card statement or a telephone bill. The damage was mostly great in the cases that were made public.

For parents, there are therefore some tips for dealing with loot boxes:

  • Find out about the topic
  • Find out about their children's players
  • Play together with their children
  • explain game content

The idea of ​​enlightenment is often mentioned in the dispute over Loot boxes. Critics would like game developers and publishers to deal more aggressively with the topic and point out possible dangers. In Germany, despite all the debates and restrictions in other countries, loot boxes are neither restricted nor forbidden. After all, there is corresponding protection against cost traps in the new Youth Protection Act. But: In the new State Treaty on Gambling, which, among other things, legalizes online gambling under certain conditions, loot boxes are not an issue. The classification as a game of chance does not exist for the loot boxes. Neighboring countries are much more advanced in this regard – and much stricter.

In Germany, a legal trick plays into the hands of the publishers: Because the "profits" from the loot boxes are virtual, they are not a monetary benefit. This will not help children, young people and their parents: for them, the risk of damage from loot boxes hovers over their heads like the sword of Damocles. The random factor can cost fans dearly, because when you pull the hoped-for item out of a box is uncertain because it is random. Internationally, including Belgium and France, there are studies that confirm the proximity of loot boxes to gambling. From a purely legal point of view, we are not that far in this country. Because corresponding regulations are in short supply, self-regulation is all the more important.

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Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API