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England’s NHS mental health director says it’s time to look at loot boxes again

Good.

loot boxes stacked on top of each other
Image: KnowTechie

If you’ve played video games in the last five years or so, you’ve probably come across your fair share of loot boxes. Maybe it was in Overwatch or Rocket League or maybe you are a FIFA fan and wanted to bolster your Ultimate Team. It also could have been one of countless other games – loot boxes seem to be almost everywhere.

Now, England’s NHS (National Health Service) mental health director, Claire Murdoch, says it’s time to look at these predatory game mechanics again. In a new report, Murdoch notes that these types of loot boxes are “setting kids up for addiction” and pushing young people into “under the radar” gambling.

Loot boxes are bad and game developers should feel bad for using them

According to PC Gamer, these predatory mechanics aren’t currently regulated because they can’t be monetized. As their report states, we all know that is just not true. Third-party sites sell tradable cosmetics all day long and Discord groups and subreddits are full of people trading items for PayPal money. Just because it isn’t built into the game doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

In the report, Murdoch says what we’re all thinking, “Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these in-game, randomized containers. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end.” Preach.

Game companies are already adapting, however. Fortnite led the charge, forgoing crates for a pure cosmetic shop. Rocket League, a game in which I spent way too much money on their cosmetics crates, also got rid of loot boxes in exchange for a blueprint system. Other games have removed loot boxes in places where they have been deemed illegal, as well.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the long run. Gacha games (typically free-to-play mobile games that rely on loot boxes) will be in some hot water if more locations ban the system and games like CS:GO have partially built their reputation on loot boxes and unique gun and knife skins.

What do you think? Glad to see loot boxes back in the spotlight? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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