ESRB Decides Loot Boxes Are Not Gambling

ESRB Decides Loot Boxes Are Not Gambling

Good news for Cuphead and Mugman.

pocru by pocru on Oct 12, 2017 @ 07:33 AM (Staff Bios)
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The ESRB was first established in 1994, not long after the release of Mortal Kombat, as the gaming industry realized that if it didn't self-regulate game ratings, the government would do it. However, the government wasn't exactly known for being pro-gaming at the time. The idea was that the ESRB would warn parents, players, or any interested parties exactly what kind of content a game would have in it: anything from mild language to nudity would be documented and slapped on the cover.

One of the things that the ESRB would warn you against? Gambling.
What’s on the rise as of late? Loot boxes. Which, many would argue… is gambling.

So you’d think that would impact a game’s rating, right? Turns out, not so much, as after some internal reviews it seems the ESRB is content to say Loot Boxes are not, in fact, gambling: putting them in stark contrast with China, who came to the opposite conclusion earlier this year.

Their reasoning is as follows:

"While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have."


How big a deal is this? Right now, not terribly. The ESRB is important for ratings and is more-or-less trusted by the government, but ultimately holds no sway. If the US Government were to decide that loot boxes WERE gambling, though, that would cause big problems for game companies… and, possibly, players.

Still, their logic sort of makes sense. I still don’t like it, but I can’t blame their way of thinking.

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