For now, the rating board will define them under the "Digital Purchases" category.
Randomness is an inherent aspect of any videogame loot box: Maybe there's something good inside, or maybe you get stuck with something you've already got 16 copies of.
However, better items might be restricted to players who pay for them. If you don't like 'em, don't buy 'em-and if you keep on buying them, don't be surprised and indignant when publishers keep working them into their games.
Loot boxes have been a part of games for a long time, and they usually go like this: Players randomly receive a loot box or earn a loot box through playing a multiplayer game, then either open it for free or pay a small amount of money for a key to unlock it.
EA, Microsoft and Bungie have all released titles which give players a chance to buy in-game items. A camouflage skin on a sniper rifle will help the player stay hidden when taking their shot, for example. I was rolling the dice with my money, relying on fickle fortune to score that Ralph McQuarrie concept art card I so desperately wanted (and, by the way, never got), and yes, by some measures that is awfully close to sinking money into scratch-off cards in hopes of the big payout.
Are loot boxes a form of gambling?
However, many of these virtual items sell for hundreds of dollars on platforms like the Steam Marketplace. These loot box systems have been used for years in games like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Team Fortress 2. But it seems that ESRB only counts it as gambling if the players have a chance of not getting anything from the loot box. Skin gambling is also classed as a legitimate gambling activity. Loot boxes are an entirely different beast.
However, some gamers and industry insiders have called out the United States for lagging behind when it comes to regulation.
Do you think loot boxes are gambling?
While skin gambling is not seen to pose a risk to adults in the gambling community, there are concerns that this cash-for-items element is available in games young teenagers may play. Many of this fall's games, including Shadow of War, Destiny 2, and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II, feature systems in which you can spend real money to get randomized gear in the form of loot boxes.
"ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling", a spokesperson for the organization told IGN.