According to Lure Clark, director of UBC’s Center of Gambling Research, there is some evidence to suggest that loot boxes and problem gambling have a link and are somehow related. Previous research in places such as the United Kingdom and Australia has claimed similar findings, although researchers stopped short of categorizing loot boxes themselves as a form of gambling. It wasn’t for a lack of trying.
What Clark Found Out about Loot Boxes in Video Games
Clark presented his findings at the BC Lottery Corporation’s New Horizons in Responsible Gambling conference held on Tuesday and spoke about what these digital assets were and how they got popular. Clark mostly said that loot boxes originated in games such as Electronic Arts’ FIFA and Valve’s Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive games.
The digital containers offered a hidden prize that was generated randomly, although each container these days displays the percentage of a given type of item dropping from it – that was also changed from previously not displaying any percentages at all due to regulatory pressure in markets where loot boxes are available.
Speaking to Global News, the outlet that did the original reporting, Clark noted that other jurisdictions around the globe are also tussling with the issue of loot boxes and how to approach them. He said:
Researchers have seen this link in past research, a correlation between higher levels of spending on loot boxes and higher symptoms of problem gambling, but until now we haven’t really understood the cause and effect behind that relationship.
UBC’s Center of Gambling Research director Luke Clark
His research focused on 400 regular gamers aged 18-24. These gamers were not gamblers per se, but Clark wanted to see if their interaction with loot boxes would push them into gambling. According to the researcher, who set up a follow-up period of six months, people who were spending more on loot boxes were also more likely to end up gambling as well, Clark concluded.
Links Established Between Excessive Spending and Gambling
“We can see that clear migration effect, the people who are spending more on loot boxes are more likely to initiate gambling over that follow up period,” the researcher noted in his observation. The video gaming ecosystem has proven a particularly treacherous conduit of gambling as well.
UBC graduate student Raymond Wu who also examines the link between gambling and gaming said that streaming platforms such as Twitch were still dominated by gambling content even though the Amazon-owned platform undertook some measures to curb the proliferation of these measures.
This is dangerous, explained Wu, who said that people could simply end up being “triggered” by watching others gambling. Self-exclusion programs do not include Twitch streams. Meanwhile, an Austrian court has ordered Sony to pay back consumers over FUT transactions.