A major new study has provided the first evidence of a potentially dangerous link between problem gambling and video game loot boxes.
The research suggests problem gambling is more closely linked to loot box spending than to well-known risk factors like alcohol dependency and major drug problems.
Loot boxes are increasingly common in recent years and are available in highly popular games with around 40 million players worldwide each.
Players can opt to transfer real money into the boxes in the hope of winning a useful virtual item from a randomised selection. Prizes can range from upgrades to their avatar or character, to advantageous equipment such as weapons or armour. The total revenue generated by loot boxes this year will be $30 billion.
The research suggests that loot boxes may be acting as a "gateway" to problem gambling among gamers.