Parents have warned that computer game loot boxes could be a ‘gateway to play’ for children

Listen to our documentary on the dangers of loot boxes

Author: Alex MeakinPosted 1 hour ago
Last updated 1 hour ago

Industry experts warn that loot boxes in computer games may prepare some children for a future of compulsive gambling.

Loot boxes are found in many of the most popular computer games, including Fortnite, FIFA, and Apex Legends. They can be purchased with real money and give the player the ability to unlock an item in the game.

The controversial system is under investigation by the UK and US governments and in 2018 they were banned completely in Belgium, with the Gambling Commission declaring that they were “in violation of gambling laws. of chance “.

Listen to our documentary – Loot Boxes – A Hidden Harm?

Loot boxes

Since they started appearing in popular games in 2009, loot boxes have been the subject of debate over whether or not they should be classified as gambling. Currently, they are not classified as games of chance and are featured in many PEGI3 games.

Jonathan Peniket is a Gaming and Esports consultant, he spent thousands of pounds in loot box savings in FIFA after buying his first as a child.

“I will always remember him telling me at that point that I shouldn’t because it’s gambling and as a FIFA Ultimate Team 12-13 year old like most of my friends over there. ‘time, I thought “it’s just ridiculous” in the end, it’s just a video game. “

“From that point on, about three to four years went by spending more and more money on more and more packs, but it slowly became more secret from my parents who always tried to be very aware and responsible for the game. “

“I ended up buying vouchers in stores without my parents seeing me, Playstation vouchers, which I would take home and redeem in the game and hide in an old book once I got them. would use so my parents wouldn’t know how much I was spending. “

“It kept increasing until a few weeks before my A levels, my spending was really out of control and I was spending around £ 80 three or four times in one night in the game. The time is right when the money finally comes out. to lack. “

Loot boxes could lead to gambling

Ellie Mulcahy is research manager at the Center for Education and Youth.

“What we are finding, to quote the most recent research on this topic, is that there is a clear link between problem gambling and people who buy loot boxes.”

“The links between problem gambling and buying goody boxes are stronger than the link between problem gambling and things like alcohol abuse, drug addiction and depression.”

A lucrative source of income

Loot boxes have proven to be a lucrative source of income for computer game developers, with FIFA’s Utimate Team mode bringing in $ 1.62 billion for parent company Electronic Arts in fiscal 2021.

Electronic Arts denies that loot boxes are the same as games of chance. Chris Bruzzo is the Executive Vice President of Marketing, Commerce and Positive Gaming for the Company:

“There is no real money for loot boxes in our video games. The best way to explain this is to put it in the minds of collectors, whether you were a concert poster collector or a collector. of music, you would be interested in building your collection and finding the last thing in your collection that makes it great. In our games, the same thing happens. “

When asked what EA would do if it turns out that loot boxes are related to problem gambling, Bruzzo replied, “We will engage, we will be part of the solution. We will continue to evolve and improve. – Listen to the full interview in our documentary in the link above.

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