The topic of loot boxes is a frequent point for discussion in esports news. However, experts also draw a parallel between these virtual items and addiction to gambling.
GambleAware together with the University of Plymouth and the University of Wolverhampton have surveyed whether purchasing loot boxes has a hint of gambling and can lead to gambling addiction.
Do loot boxes lead to problem gambling behavior?
Evidence that loot boxes are connected with excessive gambling has been confirmed during the survey conducted with approximately 14 000 participants. The aim of the research was to examine the psychological correlation between video games’ random items and problem gambling rates. It has been proved that many players buy loot boxes due to the fear of missing the opportunity out, which can directly lead to excessive gambling. The survey has also revealed that male players are more interested in opening loot boxes, especially those of younger age.
The results of the research show the necessity of considering these digital items as a gambling type because they provide users with psychological or even material value. Moreover, the in-game items can be the reason for financial losses. The researchers have found out that almost five percent of purchases made by players available in their data sources comprise half of the total revenue sum. According to the report, 1/3 of this percentage are problem gamblers. The provided information and facts can be sufficient reasons for categorizing loot boxers as gambling during the upcoming review of the Gambling Act.