You probably have heard about the loot box controversy and the fact they’re getting banned in the EU. But do you know why? If you want to find that out, here’s a brief synopsis.
What is a loot box?
You may not even know what a loot box is unless you’ve played a free-to-play game. They’re present in paid games as well, but loot boxes became a staple of those games that do not require you to pay before playing.
Games like Overwatch or CS:GO are particularly known for having them. There are in-game items that make your character in these shooters look better. For the most part, the only impact on the game is purely cosmetic.
You can either get these items by paying their full price at the in-game shop or win them by chance. Loot boxes are special items that contain one or more items from the shop.
As a rule, you get some boxes for free each week or each month. As you open them, you see a bright animation of the box opening, and the content is revealed. When you collect the items you’ve won, you have the option to buy another box.
The essence of gaming
Loot boxes are prevalent in video games, but are they a core component of games? The thing is, there’s a huge difference between video games and loot boxes.
The essence of gaming in being a part of a story. You have the opportunity to become the hero, even if the storyline of a particular game isf far from a masterpiece like The Witcher. The point of a game can be different, but the core component of the game is the same.
The core component is becoming the protagonist and showing your skill by defeating enemies. Video games are games of skill first and foremost, and tournaments that form around some games show that.
The gamification of games
Loot boxes, however, are different. When you see the loot box open, you get an adrenaline rush. You experience the thrill of waiting for a random outcome, hoping luck is on your side. The feeling is even stronger when you have money at stake. When you have something to risk, the thrill you experience while the loot box is opening and the joy you feel when you win big is so much bigger.
Does this look like a game to you? No, loot boxes are an example of gamification of games. Essentially, loot boxes give you the same feeling when you visit web casinos with live dealers. This is why so many people turn up against it.
The fact that loot boxes are loosely gaming is not bad in and of itself. There’s nothing wrong with gaming involving money and it’s legal in many countries in the EU and across the world. However, there’s a problem.
First off, loot boxes are not considered a form of money gaming by the games that use them. These games do not position loot boxes as gaming, and don’t disclose the risks.
This leads to people getting hooked on buying loot boxes. The major problem here is that games that offer loot boxes are favored by children. They are much more prone to getting addicted than adults are.
This is why Belgium banned loot boxes, and the odds are most EU countries will follow. The practice is harmful in its current forms.
It’s pretty harmful practice if implemented badly and I can see why they would be banned.
I thought loot boxes were those bundle boxes that a company sends you every so often with little gifts.
I think you are talking about gift baskets but you could say it’s a different way to say it. The term loot box is being associated with video games more nowadays and it has been that way for quite some time.
Glad Belgium banned loot boxes, and other countries in the EU are following Belgium’s footsteps. If more countries do the same, even just outright making games with loot boxes inaccessible or adding an adult rating in their PEGI rating system for gaming, these games would have no choice but to remove loot boxes, but other games are finding ways to circumvent loot boxes, disguising them under new names or adding a bit of extra, yet minor stuff (like offering monthly *free* loot boxes or ones that are earnable) to counter the narrative.