The gaming industry continues to grow yearly and shows no signs of slowing down. Things such as the pandemic helped propel the industry to new heights, with people sitting inside and having more time to do things like video games. Yes, one aspect that has also grown with video games is the usage of loot boxes and their manipulation. This has been plagued with a whole host of discrepancies, including a manipulative design to sway people to get them, marketing aggressively designed to force people into feeling they have to purchase them, and probabilities that aren’t quite what they seem. Here we look at the manipulation of loot boxes within the video games industry and what this means for games such as thelostgamer.com.
What are loot boxes in video games?
Anyone familiar with gaming will have come across loot boxes at one point or another – they just might not have realized what exactly it was. Loot boxes can also be coined “loot crates” or “prize crates” and are essentially virtual items that can be opened to reveal a selection of “loot” or items that will help you to progress further along in your level or game. There are many different types of loot boxes, and they will suit what type of game you are playing. For example, if the game you are playing is a fighting one or a battle-themed game (which many are), then chances are you will receive things such as ammo and armor. You could also receive rewards such as different skins to change a character’s appearance, new characters to play in the game, and much more. Loot boxes are always randomized, meaning the user does not know what they will receive before they open them.
Do you pay for loot boxes?
In games, you can find free boxes as you go around, or you might have free-of-charge ones as rewards (for example, if you score a certain amount of points.) However, the look boxes which are causing the controversy are the ones that are paid for. These tend to be able to be purchased for a one-off cost, and the price of this can vary significantly between the games and also the chance of you getting a better reward. For example, if you pay more, you might be told that you have a higher chance of getting better and rarer items than if you paid much less for a cheaper one. The thing about the boxes is that while you could pay different prices for the different boxes, there is only one way of knowing precisely what you will get once you open the box. This could mean you end up with a dissatisfying reward you feel you have paid over the odds for. And it can also be viewed as a form of gambling, as you don’t know what you are getting and have different odds.
What is the problem with loot boxes?
The problem with loot boxes has been touched upon above, but there are a few main things that cause so much controversy to arise around them. Here we take a look at the problems with loot boxes and what it means.
They can have persuasive advertising that makes users feel they need to spend money on them
When you have already purchased a game for a lot of money, you might expect that to be the end of it. Yet loot boxes entice you in with persuasive advertising that makes you feel as though you need to spend even more money to further progress in the game. They can make you feel as though you need to get better items in order to get ahead and really glamourise spending this money in order to get the most out of your experience.
The costs can soon add up as you don’t realise what you’re spending
The costs of these loot boxes can currently be anything that the gaming price is set at. This means that you could soon find your costs are adding up, and you spend a lot more than you might intend to. You might find that once you have invested in one box, you keep wanting to get more in the future. This could also be seen as a form of gambling as you are purchasing something with no guaranteed outcome. You don’t know that spending more will mean you end up with a good prize and therefore some people argue it’s a form of betting and therefore should not be allowed, or at least not allowed for all ages. There are often minors who play the games and don’t understand how it works or might not easily be able to identify the risk that comes with gambling, particularly when there is money involved.
Their usage is not currently regulated
Another thing about loot boxes and their manipulation within video games is that they are currently not regulated or licensed. There have been many calls for the UK government to look into loot boxes and whether or not they are gambling. It was brought up in court in 2020, whereby the broader review of the Gambling Act 2005 was identified. The report looked into how gambling can occur with younger people and children, particularly how gaming can influence this. The committee recommended loot boxes were more tightly regulated, but as such, there hasn’t been anything added to regulate this.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what exactly loot boxes are in gaming and what they can mean for the industry and those who play the games. These are highly manipulative marketing ploys that can cost players a lot of money and bring a lot of funds in for the gaming industry owners themselves. What do you think about them? Should they be regulated? Or do you think that they are perfectly ok? Let us know in the comments.