In a study in the United Kingdom, it has been determined that cases of childhood gambling addiction have quadrupled in the last two years, up to 50,000 children, and the UK’s Gambling Commission has singled out video game Loot Boxes as a major contributor. If you’re not familiar, in many video games, players can pay real money to purchase a mystery box that offers the chance to score major in-game bonuses. While the player will receive a prize of some sort, predictably, the top bonuses are extremely rare and the odds of unlocking them is tiny.
According to this report, 39% of 11-16 year olds have spent their own money gambling in the last year, while 14% have done so in the past week. The rate of children gambling is higher than those who have consumed alcohol, smoked cigarettes or used illegal drugs. 31% state that they have used their own real money to open loot boxes, while 3% have taken part in “skin gambling,” such as in the case of ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’, in which players gamble for in-game items and/or currency. 13% of 11-16 year olds have also played online gambling games that are based on real world gambling, like poker. In the case of the latter, gambling as a whole has increased due to online poker, etc., which is advertised on television, often during sporting events. Many games are also played on apps, specifically created for them and those apps exist with the express purpose of making money.
But as for Loot Boxes, it has been suggested that perhaps they should not be included in games that are known to appeal to a large kid and teen market. Unlike the gambling apps, these Loot Boxes are widely used in games that players have to pay for to buy. The Loot Boxes just add extra money for the companies that make them. But bear in mind that it isn’t just kids buying them. Should adult players be penalized due to the actions of juveniles?
As it stands, it is predicted that Loot Box spending will cross $50 billion in the next four years.