The Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) from the United Kingdom is warning parents about a startling new statistic: over 1 in 10 young gamers are in debt because they spend too much on loot boxes. Indeed, almost one in six young gamers (15%) have taken money from their parents (without their permission, mind you) to buy loot boxes, one in ten (11%) have used their parents’ credit or debit card to fund their loot box purchases, and one in ten (9%) have borrowed money they couldn’t repay to spend on loot boxes. For three of the over 600 that were surveyed, young gamer’s loot box spending has resulted in their families having to re-mortgage their homes in order to cover the costs, which seems like the title to an article from The Onion.
Duncan Stephenson, Chair of the GHA and Deputy Chief Executive of RSPH, said:
While this is a small survey of gamers, our research suggests that the drive to play games containing loot boxes is encouraging many to beg, borrow and steal – loot boxes really are the gift that keeps on taking. Aside from the financial cost our latest survey with gamers suggests that the fixation with loot boxes can lead to classic symptoms of addiction including mood swings, problems sleeping, and impacting on their social life.
We are calling for parents to be aware of the risks of loot boxes when buying presents this Christmas, and to boycott games with these predatory mechanics until we see them classified as a form of gambling and removed from games played by under 18s.”
A lot of gamers felt that the games that they were playing were pay-to-win, and without spending a lot of money on loot boxes they were "impossible to play competitively". They also found that the odds of getting items were "incredibly low", which leaves them "frustrated and ripped off". This, including what loot boxes frequently included (features/loot that makes them feel incredibly important to gamers) makes buying them feel "especially addictive."
This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year where the UK House of Lords called to immediately reclassify loot boxes, stating that the government "must act immediately" to bring loot boxes "under the purview of British gambling legislation and regulation." For the aforementioned survey from earlier, over 700 million pounds (or 934,395,000 USD) is spent within the UK on loot boxes on a yearly basis, which is quite a lot of dosh.
Geraldine Bedell, Executive Editor, Parent Zone, said:
“Parent Zone strongly backs the GHA’s call for loot boxes to be classified as gambling. Our research, like theirs, points to the exploitation of children by gambling-like mechanisms in online games, and the use of psychological techniques drawn from gambling. Risks are being taken with the future of young people, who are being taught to gamble.”
For more information on the article, be sure to check it out here.
What do you think of this news? Do you agree that loot boxes should be seen as gambling? Let us know in the comments!