Are loot chests gambling?
This is the question that’s been ricocheting around the Internet for months now, ever since EA announced (and then aborted) a rather pernicious microtransaction model for Star Wars Battlefront II. Gaming sites, comments sections, podcasts, and forums abound with think pieces and hot takes on the subject. Legislators have even jumped into the fray, with bills regulating randomized rewards being introduced in Hawaii and the Dutch gambling authority taking aim at the practice.
For as long as there have been microtransactions in games, there have been controversies about said transactions. But recent events – such as loot chests in the single-player Shadow of War and the aforementioned EA debacle – along with the general growth of the practice have brought the issue to the fore. In addition to predictable comments about canceled preorders and lamentations for The Way Games Used To Be, the conversation has centered on the question of whether or not loot chests constitute gambling. Everyone seems to agree that this is the key issue; the only debate is whether we should call them chests, crates, or boxes.
But debating whether or not loot chests are gambling misses the point. Ultimately, answering the question will tell us far more about gambling laws than it will about loot chests. Continue reading It Doesn’t Matter If Loot Chests Are Gambling