Loot boxes began appearing in games during the 2000s (the arrival of ‘Ultimate Team’ mode in FIFA 2009 was a significant milestone), and concerns have gradually escalated enough for the issue to be debated at national levels. The sale of loot boxes is now heavily restricted in countries including the Netherlands, Japan and China – and has been completely prohibited in Belgium.
With gamers around the world spending an estimated $15 billion on loot boxes annually, paying for the chance of in-game success has become a major facet of the industry. Aside from the obvious potential costs, however, our #WakeUpWednesday guide to loot boxes also highlights risks including scams and the dangers of young people becoming used to gambling.
Evidence suggests that even gamers who do purchase loot boxes aren’t fans of the system, seeing it as a ‘necessary evil’. Many players find it frustratingly tough to make meaningful progress in their favourite games without resorting to using loot boxes. In some titles, the probability of snagging a coveted item from a loot box has been placed as low as 0.001%. With gamers – especially young ones – always eager to take their online adventures to the next level, however, the lure of the loot box is strong. Our #WakeUpWednesday guide brings trusted adults up to speed on how loot boxes work, why some critics feel they promote a gambling mentality, and how we can support young people to act responsibly around them.