According to a new report, loot boxes contribute to problem gambling
The report found a correlation between players who spend more than €82 per month on average for loot boxes and a greater risk of problem gambling.
The analysis combined information from previous loot box reports based on nearly 7800 loot box buyers.
The GambleAware report is not meant to correlate the dangers of loot boxes, themselves. Rather, it collected six previous surveys with information from 7771 loot box buyers.
Overall, the survey revealed that roughly 5% of those buyers produced nearly half of loot box revenue. To do this, each of those buyers needed to spend €82 or more per month on loot boxes.
That 5% displayed signs of problem gambling. We know this because 1/3 of the players surveyed scored at least an 8 on the PGSI (Problem Gambling Severity Index), which classifies them as problem gamblers.
There was no correlation found between income and spending.
The report was made by researchers at both the University of Plymouth and the University of Wolverhampton. Dr. James Close, who is a senior research fellow at Plymouth, stated that loot boxes—and more appropriately, developers—use “psychological techniques such as ‘fear of missing out” in order to encourage this type of spending.
Dr. Close also notes the disproportionate funding of loot boxes by these problem gamblers and at-risk players. And though this 5% of surveyed players spend such enormous amounts, it doesn’t correlate with higher levels of disposable income.
The researchers were able to identify commonalities among loot box purchasers. In general, these players are males aged 18-24. Ethnic minorities, players with low levels of education, and those who are unemployed were also overrepresented.
Going forward, the researchers argue new loot box policies should be in place.
They argue that loot boxes should be transparent about the odds of winning and listing prices in actual money, not in-game currency. They also argue that games containing loot boxes should be labeled as such prior to playing.
The chief executive of GambleAware, Zoë Osmond, stated the reason for funding this research is to protect young people from the harm of gambling. The outcome certainly details the risk that loot boxes have on younger players. Results of the study are available for lawmakers to use regarding new loot box and gambling legislation.