The trend and concern of loot boxes in video games

There has been recent discussion in the media about the concerns linking the inclusion of loot boxes in video games. While some experts think loot boxes should be considered as a form of gambling, others don't concur with this. However, recent research carried out by the universities of Wolverhampton and Plymouth have shown that indeed there's a relationship between the boxes and online casino gambling. In fact, the UK government is already reviewing its gambling laws to classify and regulate them as games of chance. So, are these concerns warranted or is it just a storm in a teacup?

What precisely are loot boxes?

Loot boxes are a somewhat new way for gamers to spend more cash on video gaming. They are available in mobile games, console games and even PC games. A loot box is simply a secret treasure box that can be bought with real money when playing a game. The box contains a random collection of items such as weapons or costumes that players can use to enhance their gaming strategy. However, when a player purchases a loot box, they're not paying for a specific item, but for something which is unknown to them. This means the item could either be extremely valuable or relatively useless.

Examples of video games with loot boxes

For instance, in the popular shooter video game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a player can buy a loot box for $2.49. The box may contain extremely prestigious and valuable “skins” that can be used to customize the appearance of weapons. Conversely, there is also a risk of landing an unappealing “skin” that players might already have in their inventory. Similarly, in the football video game FIFA 22, players can pay real-money to buy loot boxes that contain ‘player packs'. These specific items may enhance the performance of their teams, or they may not, depending on what they ultimately get.

The similarities between loot boxes and online gambling

Several international gambling regulators have spelled out the striking similarities between loot boxes and online gambling. Just like betting on games at online casinos, paying for loot boxes involves a “psychological nudge” that motivates players to spend money. This is where players buy loot boxes out of the fear that they will miss out on awesome game enhancements. For example, research has shown that many fans of the colorful shooting game Fortnite buy loot boxes wishing to land “legendary skins”. And since these items aren't guaranteed, they will need to buy more loot boxes until they get what they want.

Loot boxes bring about gambling addiction

Apart from that, loot boxes in video games can lead to addiction just like online gambling. This is due to the fact that a player can win or lose when they buy and open the box, just as with casino games. In addition, since loot boxes involve uncontrolled excessive spending, many gambling regulators feel that they should be regulated. Besides, studies have revealed that of the 92% of children playing video games, almost 40% buy and open these secret boxes. This simply shows the severity of the whole issue as far as the link to gambling addiction is concerned.


All in all, loot boxes are closely related to online gambling. This is mostly in terms of psychological motivation and how reward and addiction works. While some jurisdictions have proposed to regulate them, others are still reviewing their gambling laws to accommodate them. However, the biggest responsibility still lies with parents who must monitor the games their children indulge in. And when it comes to online casino gaming, players should ensure that they're playing at trusted platforms. Luckily, casino comparison websites such as OCS will help them in making a wise and informed decision.