Recent discussions and research have brought to light the potential link between loot boxes in video games and gambling problems. While loot boxes have been around for some time, their popularity has grown exponentially in recent years, prompting concerns from consumer groups, regulators, and researchers. According to the director of UBC’s Center of Gambling Research, Lure Clark, there is enough evidence to suggest that excessive spending on loot boxes may be linked to gambling addiction.
Although previous research in the UK and Australia has made similar findings, researchers have stopped short of categorizing loot boxes themselves as a form of gambling. However, Clark’s recent study focused on 400 regular gamers aged 18-24 and found that those who spent more on loot boxes were more likely to initiate gambling over a follow-up period of six months.
Clark’s research highlights a worrying trend in the video gaming industry, as loot boxes have become one of the most popular methods among game developers to generate revenue. Loot boxes are digital containers that offer a hidden prize generated randomly, with the percentage of each type of item dropping from it displayed to the player. However, these containers have been criticized for encouraging addictive behaviour, especially among vulnerable populations such as minors.
The link between loot boxes and problem gambling has raised concerns among consumer groups and regulators that are calling for more oversight and regulation of the video gaming industry. Streaming platforms such as Twitch have also come under scrutiny for their role in promoting gambling content to viewers, with graduate student Raymond Wu noting that such platforms can be a trigger for some people.
In light of these developments, it is clear that loot boxes and video gaming are closer to gambling than we previously thought. While the gaming industry is undoubtedly a source of entertainment and enjoyment for millions of people worldwide, it is important to recognize and address the potential harms associated with excessive gaming and gambling behaviour.