I don’t believe the ESRB realizes nor comprehends the reality of the situation they’ve recently gotten themselves into. As we speak, legislators from the United States are working with Representative Chris Lee to find a way to regulate loot boxes in video games, and the ESRB truly believes that loot boxes aren’t gambling. Also, there’s apparently “no evidence” to support the claims of loot boxes and gambling. Even though there’s mountains of evidence to prove otherwise. The many stories of kids spending thousands of dollars on in-game loot boxes, expressing the high/excitement they get from opening a box, and the insane prices weapon skins can cost.
This is the reality, ESRB. This is the truth behind loot boxes. It has affected children with addictive tendencies. It has even affected adults who have addictive personalities. This has been getting out of control since they were first discovered in the Fifa Franchise. It’s affecting the Gaming Industry in the absolute worst way possible. Loot Boxes aren’t “a fun way for people to purchase in-game items”. Loot Boxes aren’t “player choice” when they’re advertised in your face every time you get on. They are a problem, they are gambling, and they are getting worse with every game,. Something needs to change.
If the ESRB continues to ignore the problem, well, it won’t be long before Uncle Sam busts the doors down on the Gaming Industry. They’ve allowed the industry to go private for years, and now their pushing it too far. If the ESRB won’t find a solution, the Government will. Whether we want it or not. Let’s talk about this.
How are Loot Boxes a Form of Gambling?
I’ll give you an example, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. One of the more popular games know for it’s gambling practices. Weapon Skins are the main thing everyone on CSGO is buying right now. They can range anywhere from $0.01 – $60,000.00 depending on the rarity of the skin. No, that isn’t an exaggeration, that is an actual real price of a skin that was actually bought by somebody off of the Steam Community. I wish I was kidding, but this is fact. Moving on. Crates (depending on the rarity and value) can range between $1.00 – $5.00 and Keys (which you need to open the crates) range between $3.00 – $4.00. So after spending roughly $10.00 on a crate, you then have a random chance at getting a skin from the many different rarities.
The rarities include Common, Uncommon, Rare, Mythical, Legendary, Ancient, Exceedingly Rare, and Immortal. Of course, the rarer the item, the more valuable it becomes. So, yes, if I can spend real money on a Crate & Key and I get a highly rare skin from said crate, and then I can take the rare skin I got, cash it out for real money, then YES, that is considered gambling. You are paying real world money on a digital item that you then cash out for real world money. It’s no different than a slot machine.
You pay real world money to gamble on earning cash, which you then take a ticket to the counter to cash out the money you just won.
Why do we need Government Regulation?
I never wanted there to be government regulation. For the longest time, I had hoped and prayed that the Gaming Industry would learn from it’s mistakes and from all the backlash to stop these disgusting practices and find a better way. Clearly, I was a very naïve individual. At this point, I’m afraid we have no choice. When Chris Lee started this campaign against Loot Boxes, he came in with the intent to try and scare the industry into changing their ways without government intervention. Since AAA companies refuse to listen to legislators and consumers, they’re giving Chris no other option.
If we are going to see any change, the government is going to have intervene. When that day comes, I believe then (and only then) the Gaming Industry will finally realize the gravity of the situation, and change their ways for good. No matter how many times gaming companies try making excuses as to why Loot Boxes exist, the fact is games can be made without them. Monster Hunter World was released with no Loot Boxes and it’s a major success. Cup Head was released with no Loot Boxes, also a major success. It can be done, but companies are far too greedy.
Quantity over quality. They would much rather have a shit game that’ll make them more money in the long run, than a good game that’ll make them more money in the short run. That’s what this has all come down to.
The Gaming Industry has only one option at this point; change your ways or the government will. We’ve given you one chance too many at this point. We’ve turned you into the $36 Billion Industry you are today, and you just want more. You couldn’t handle wanting more, and now its come to bite you in the ass. Do the right thing, ESRB. Call out Loot Boxes for what they are. PROPERLY regulate them to keep them out of the reach of children. Prove Chris Lee wrong and show him you actually care. Otherwise, well, he’ll just get them regulated himself.
Your move, ESRB.