A new study with concerns about “problem gambling” habits has pushed for a closer look at loot boxes, the in-game rewards popular in online gaming.
Loot boxes typically contain something of value specific to the game—such as a new skill, accessory or weapon for a character—and can be either won or purchased. Over the years, games have become dependent on loot boxes as a source of revenue, and a black market has developed for loot boxes due to their value.
Now, a new study has raised concerns about the impact of loot boxes on gamers and suggested that oversight and even regulation may be necessary. Launched by an Australian parliamentary committee, the study was conducted by Dr. David Zendle of York St. John University and Dr. Paul Cairns of the University of York.
The professors recruited thousands of gamers from Reddit to ask questions about their playing habits, including spending, and found that loot boxes are indicative of a bigger problem. According to the report, gamers who tend toward “problem gambling” habits (defined as behavior or spending that negatively impacts everyday life and relationships) spent significantly more on loot boxes than average gamers did.