The UK government have responded to questions about in-game gambling

Destiny 2 loot chest

Update, October 17: The UK government has provided a response to two questions on the subject of in-game gambling posed by a Labour MP last week.

Conservative MP Tracey Crouch has provided a response to two questions posed by Labour MP Daniel Zeichner on the subject of loot boxes and in-game gambling. The statement, which you can read in its entirety here, says that "protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling" is "a priority for the government."

As much as we love Overwatch around these parts, we are afraid it had a big hand in the loot box trends.

The statement closes by saying: "The government recognise the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and computer games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market." It makes no reference to the petition, mentioned in the original story below, asking the government to adapt gambling regulations to include loot boxes.

Original story, October 16: Welcome back to PCGamesN’s round-the-clock coverage of 'People Really Hate Loot Boxes 2017'. Paid drops for random items have existed since the early days of downloadable content, but loot boxes have spent the year digging deeper into new genres and putting new types of content on the table. Players have been eyeing every new release from Middle-earth: Shadow of War to Battlefront 2 with suspicion, and it’s been what you might politely call a controversy.

Common gaming wisdom so far has been 'it’s okay as long as they’re just cosmetic', but people have been increasingly concerned about the idea that loot boxes are essentially gambling over digital goods. Gambling, of course, is typically tightly regulated by government in most countries. Both the ESRB and PEGI say they’re not going to consider loot boxes gambling until the law does.

So, as is natural in a representative government, UK residents have been petitioning their officials to do something. The petition - while grammatically questionable - asks laws covering gambling to be adapted to include videogame-related gambling, citing China’s law requiring the public disclosure of loot box odds.

Additionally, Labour MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner, has submitted a pair of questions on behalf of Reddit user Artfunkel. Again, the goal is to see gambling regulations extended to loot boxes, a precedent already set by British territory the Isle of Man, which does define in-game items by their gambling value.

Neither measure is likely to result in direct change, but both open the door for further conversation in government as to the nature of loot boxes and whether they should be regulated. While recent games like Shadow of War have proven to mostly avoid making their microtransactions a part of the core game balance, concerns have increased over whether the existence of paid random drops is itself a bad thing, potentially preying on both children and the psychologically vulnerable.

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Rasenka avatarDarkedone02 avatarAnanym avatarDuoBlaze avatar
Rasenka Avatar
51
1 Month ago

I think it's really hard to argue that loot boxes AREN'T gambling. The main defense is that they give you some guaranteed value, but that's pretty weak to begin with. It barely holds for a game like Hearthstone, which I guess is in a gray area, but definitely can't hold for Battlefront 2.

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Darkedone02 Avatar
94
1 Month ago

When you look at how often you use loot boxes to try to get the things you wanted like an random hero for heroes of the storm for example, you noticed how it is something similar to gambling. Loot boxes are cheap but you have to put tons of money to get that kinda thing you wanted since it's random, or you just buy it straight out of the market which is more expansive but you get what you paid for... loot boxes... you don't know what your getting, but it's a random chance, a dice roll, it's basically gambling with your real life money to get the shit you want.

It slightly remind me of the weekly free rolls I have to do on world of warcraft to get my raiding gear, you just got to be lucky to get the shit you need to feel almightly powerful and to do shit to excell.

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DuoBlaze Avatar
93
1 Month ago

The question of whether it's gambling is irrelevant. All these games could easily switch to stores with customer choice of micro transactions.

The focus should be on eliminating in-game purchases of any kind. Costs for games should be exactly like any other software or service.

Any combination of initial product fee, subscription or maintenance fees, and/or one time cost for major upgrades.

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Ananym Avatar
105
1 Month ago

Is a slot machine not gambling if it awards you at least a penny sweet with every roll?

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