What are Loot Boxes?

A loot box is like an in-game lottery ticket: for a fee, involving real money, a player can purchase an assortment of items that promise to enhance the game experience.

Publishers and developers use loot boxes to improve the profitability of games that are free to play or that are paid for as an initial purchase. However, the game can’t be fully enjoyed unless the player pays for in-app boosts. Many gamers equate these loot boxes to gambling as they encourage multiple purchases to gain the award the gamer is seeking.

For example, the popular game Overwatch offers players the chance to buy loot boxes in randomised bundles with prices starting at £1.50 for two loot boxes going up to £30 for 50 boxes. But when a player purchases each bundle they’re not paying for the items within the loot box, but rather the chance of getting something worth using in the game. The probability of a player’s loot box containing anything of actual value is not shown and so there is no idea of knowing the odds of winning.

Belgium and The Netherlands have already declared video game loot boxes illegal under their gambling laws. The Australian government are holding an inquiry to investigate the threat associated with loot boxes. It is very reassuring to know that there is a huge drive to protect our young, but is it enough?

Why are we waiting for someone else to shield our children from the dangers of online gaming? For example, would you expect the creators of an over-18s movie to re-write it as the violent content had a negative impact on your 7-year old? No, you would exercise your parental control and not allow them to view it. Online gaming is just the same, it is an age related activity and requires assessment for its audience. Using parental controls, such as Ikydz, allows you to have control over what your child sees or participates in online with one easy-to-use app on your phone.