[Curiosity, Red Tape, Catch-22] Loot boxes- Not casino gambling, not collectible cards, not harmful ??
Turns out a lot of games don’t have to comply with Apple’s decision to display loot box odds. Because the definition of a loot box is gambling. But a lot of loot boxes are not technically gambling. So lots of loot boxes aren’t loot boxes.
The gambling/ loot box loop hole is currently two fold a) can a third party website give you money for the items you won and b) do you get something when you open the box.
The governments, and publishers, keep comparing it to baseball cards, collectible card games, etc. But that is the problem. If I buy a pack of baseball cards, I OWN those. I can rent them, sell them, or trash them. Some one else can trade them. Game stores used to have huge boxes of common cards for $0.05 ( think 3* heroes ), uncommon cards for $1 ( think 4* heroes ). But games with loot boxes own the results of the box. If I get a Crystal staff, I cannot give it to my wife. If my wife gets a leather cap, she cannot give it to me. If I get a four steel gauntlets in a row, I cannot sell them to buy a single flame sword.
So the government is comparing non-gambling loot boxes to baseball card, but then making it illegal to treat the non-gambling loot boxes as baseball cards. That is fudged all to H. E. Double hockey sticks.
I spent $1300 USD on Magic The Gathering Collectible Card Game when it first came out. After selling my cards, with the help of some friends, I recovered $1200 and they earned $750.
MY PERSONAL OPINION
After finding this out, I really feel bad for Small Giant games. By complying with the government regulations, they basically are stuck sucking all the fun out of collecting things.
Using Standard ( Magic the Gathering season ), for example, the player will know they can only buy cards that are coming out for the season and some from last season, ensuring players don’t always have the best cards and are buying new cards. As they build their deck it means figuring out what deck they are playing, then finding the cards the best suit the deck. The beauty is, even if they are solely buying card packs, that’s not the only option. MTG players can also buy cards individually from retail online or local stores. Although this method is more expensive, it means picking and choosing individual cards for their deck, hence, the player is deciding what they get. Loot boxes do not have this option, which is where the balloon completely deflates.
Paragraph 3.18 then clarifies that, even though loot boxes or crates or whatever resemble slot machines, loot boxes are not considered gambling unless they contain items with real-world value: “Where prizes are successfully restricted for use solely within the game, such in-game features would not be licensable gambling.”
. . .
“ESRB does not consider this mechanic to be gambling because the player uses real money to pay for and obtain in-game content,” a spokesperson for the ESRB tells Eurogamer.
"The player is always guaranteed to receive something - even if the player doesn’t want what is received. Think of it like opening a pack of collectible cards: sometimes you’ll get a brand new, rare card, but other times you’ll get a pack full of cards you already have.
. . .
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University, has no illusions about the debate surrounding loot boxes.
“Loot box systems are gambling in my view,” Griffiths says. Griffiths penned an academic paper that explores whether RuneScape’s Squeal of Fortune and Treasure Hunter features should be considered gambling. He arrived at an unequivocal yes, not just because the mini-games meet the criteria for gambling set out in the Gambling Act of 2005, but because the bonds won from these mini-games have value outside of the game. (UPDATE: a representative from Jagex contacted Eurogamer to say these bonds can no longer be used for real-life services. Instead they can be used to purchase membership to the game itself. We’ve asked why this change was made and will update when Jagex responds.)