Loot Boxes Push Gambling Further into Gaming

by | Oct 11, 2017 | News, Videogames

Loot Boxes Push Gambling Further into Gaming

by | Oct 11, 2017 | News, Videogames | 0 comments

It used to be that video games were blamed for everything from low grades to mental illness, but most of that has fallen by the wayside as unrelated and unfounded. However, with recent trends in loot boxes and microtransactions, video games have now found themselves under fire again, but this time for something they actually are to blame for – gambling.

cs:go loot case

It’s hard to say when the transition happened, but for years a gambling community was spreading like wildfire in the CS:GO community. Arguably a huge amount of viewership for CS:GO content came just from watching people open loot boxes to try and find skins. It wasn’t just that people were tuning in by the millions to watch others open boxes, it was that thousands of people were also making bets on the outcome.

Though Valve forced the shut-down of every major CS:GO gambling site last year, the damage had already been done. Opening loot boxes on League of Legends, Overwatch, and CS:GO continues to be a huge pull for viewership, and now loot boxes have become such a staple of games, that numerous single-player titles like the NBA 2K series and Shadow of War are moving to a loot box model.

jimquisition

This was recently highlighted by youtbers Jim Sterling and Total Biscuit, who focused on not just the rise of loot boxes, but what kind of culture it breeds. Arguably, CS:GO’s gambling crisis was founded on a system that already had gambling at its heart. Loot Boxes create much the same sensation that traditional gambling does, constantly forcing the player to push to win something that seems out of reach. Also, considering that the drop rates of most items players are pursuing are unpublished, the comparison is even more apt.

And while gambling in video games may have many malicious intentions, as Sterling and Biscuit both feel, there is also the simple fact that it seems here to stay. League of Legends, for instance, not only features a loot box system, but with the recent Worlds tournament, it has introduced its own small form of gambling in Pick’em. Pick’em is a simple enough game where summoners choose which teams they believe will win certain matches in Worlds. For every correct prediction, summoners are rewarded with progress towards a mission which will result in currency (which can then be spent in the loot box system – you are seeing the pattern, right?).

Even Pokémon Go’s egg-hatching system encourages players to engage in a randomized reward system which they can always augment through cash. And if hoping an egg is going to hatch into a rare baby Pokémon only to be rewarded with yet another Pidgey isn’t similar to gambling, we aren’t quite sure what is.

Whether or not a person agrees with Pick’em or Pokémon, it shows that gaming is turning towards gambling in a very real sense, and developers are skirting as much as possible around money changing hands while still encouraging players to buy into the system with their time if not their cash.

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