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Home » The Evolution of Loot Boxes – Examining the Controversy and Impact on Gaming

The Evolution of Loot Boxes – Examining the Controversy and Impact on Gaming

by Zaraki Kenpachi

As online games become more advanced, interactive, immersive, and easily accessible, the inherent risks to young players are now a major concern. If parents are not careful about the games they allow their children to play, they could expose them to serious dangers.

One problem that has been getting a lot of attention lately is the increase of loot boxes in many popular video games designed for children, such as Mario Kart Tour.

Unlike the crypto games at, where it is clear that these are online betting games, games such as Mario Kart Tour are packaged as entertainment for kids.

As such, when elements of gambling are seemingly incorporated within these games, parents and the authorities are rightfully concerned.

This article will look at the controversy of loot boxes and the impact any calls for change may have on the gaming industry.

What Are Loot Boxes?


Loot boxes can best be defined as virtual items awarded to the player that can be used to receive further virtual items through a randomized selection process. These virtual items won by the player are called loot and can be anything, from special powers to customization for the player’s avatar.

In most cases, loot can be won during normal gameplay in the form of rewards, be bought using in-game currency, or be directly purchased using real-world money by, for example, linking your credit card to the game. Depending on the type of game, loot can appear in the form of card packs, crates, or chests.

Are Loot Boxes the Same As Gambling?

The big question is “Are loot boxes the same as gambling?” At first glance, it would seem like a far-fetched comparison to anyone familiar with casino games. If, for example, you ask a casino dealer whether they consider loot boxes to be gambling, they may laugh at the very notion.

However, on closer inspection, some similarities between the two begin to emerge. The biggest similarity is that with loot boxes, as with gambling, you use your loot to play a game with either disclosed or undisclosed odds in the hope of winning more loot. In the end, you will either boost your loot collection or lose whatever loot you wagered on the game.

A great example is the Spotlight Pipes used in Mario Kart Tour, where players were allowed to exchange rubies for gliders, karts, or drivers.

However, the player has no complete control over which item they would receive for their loot. Spotlight Pipes have since been replaced by the Spotlight store where players can purchase exactly what they need.

Are Loot Boxes Legal?

Are Loot Boxes Legal


Barring a few exceptions, the different forms of loot boxes that exist within various games are still legal and largely unregulated in most countries.

This means this potential gateway to addictive behaviors, as claimed by those in favor of banning loot boxes, remains accessible to anyone who wants to play.

In Europe, Belgium is leading the way as the only country in that continent to have explicitly banned loot boxes. In 2018, loot boxes were declared to violate the gambling legislation of Belgium, which was a major step towards more regulation in the industry.

There is still a lot to be done though, as the authorities are still finding it difficult to enforce the ban. If progress is to be made in removing such games of chance that expose children to predatory practices and gambling, more countries will have to follow Belgium’s steps.

Calls for Loot Boxes to Be Classified As Betting

Recently, the calls to remove loot boxes from games played by minors have become louder. The movement scored a huge victory when Mario Kart Tour, a very popular mobile game, agreed to replace its Spotlight Pipes with the Spotlight store. This was after the creator of the game, Nintendo, faced a huge lawsuit over the gambling nature of its loot boxes.

Other gaming companies have also begun to feel the heat. Fueled by the victory over Nintendo, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Epic Games for using similar gambling antics in its popular game, Fortune.

This has forced other gaming companies to sit up and listen, which will hopefully pave the way for reforms in the industry.

Overwatch 2, another very popular game, has already made changes to its in-game reward system. It has moved away from loot boxes completely, preferring to utilize battle passes instead, with transparent rewards being offered to the players.

It would seem that the calls for loot boxes to be classified as gambling, or at the very least be regulated, have been heard. This has also led to widespread scrutiny over the microtransactions that are utilized by many gaming companies to make their games more interactive.

Impact on Gaming

Loot boxes


The biggest change that will be seen in the gaming industry will revolve around its monetary transactions.

Just like Mario Kart Tour and Overwatch 2, we will likely see a lot of games moving away from loot boxes in favor of more in-game stores where players can purchase what they need directly, or other means of offering transparent rewards without the use of gambling tactics.

In terms of games designed for children, this is a very positive move as it will help prevent the development of gambling addiction in young players. This will no doubt give concerned parents a lot more peace of mind when they allow their children to play video games unsupervised.

It is also great news for online casino games because this will mean players who are old enough to play betting games will only be able to do so on these regulated platforms. The more regulation the online casino gaming industry will have, the more consumers will learn to trust legitimate platforms, such as bet999.

Final Word

There is a lot that still needs to be done in terms of regulating the use of loot boxes in games. These victories against gaming giants, such as Nintendo and Epic Games, may prove to be very important in the battles ahead. In the meantime, it is up to parents to keep a close eye on what games their children are playing online.

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