New Study Links Loot Boxes in Video Games to Problem Gambling
A public study conducted via a survey of over 7,400 gamers has recently been published, finding, “important links between loot box spending and problem gambling.”
Published by the Australian Environment and Communications Reference Committee (ECRC), the survey was written in response to a scholarly journal published in Nature Human Behaviour, titled, “Video game loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling.”
During a public hearing held by the ECRC that was led by Dr. David Zendle and Dr. Paul Cairns of York St. John University and the University of York respectively, the researchers outlined the severe risks involved in gambling addictions that correlated to the purchase of loot boxes. The finding supports prior claims that loot boxes are “psychologically akin to gambling.” The report went on to note that “these results also suggest that there is a serious risk for loot boxes to cause gambling-related harm.”
Given the findings, the report recommended that video games that promote loot boxes provide parental advisories and a clear description regarding the presence of “in-game gambling content.”
The report maintains loot boxes may be a gateway habit that manifests as gambling among gamers, allowing gaming companies to harbor an unregulated method of “exploiting gambling disorders among their customers.”
Though, restricting the sale of games that promote loot boxes to gamers of legal gambling age should be given serious consideration. The transcript maintains that “industry statements typically disassociate loot boxes from gambling,” and instead compares loot boxes to harmless products, like trading cards.
Video game publishing giant Electric Arts (EA) previously began an investigation regarding pay-to-win mechanics present in Star Wars: Battlefront II. Although the company eventually removed the elements, various other large publishers, namely 2K (TTWO)and Blizzard (ATVI), continue to promote loot boxes.