Loot Boxes - The Devil makes work for idle hands

Loot Boxes Modern-day Cigarettes.

Free games on the internet are anything but, and one of the most insidious forms of this is micro-transactions using 'in-app purchasing' to buy Loot boxes. A Loot box - is where you pay for virtual items and random rewards to enhance characters' looks or abilities in a game.

Most popular games are designed to make children and gamers buy something to improve their chances in the game. 

This is a controversial issue worldwide for cyber security, internet safety, governments and parents alike. Gaming companies make bank while confusion reigns. Naturally, technical advances muddy the waters further, which suits the gaming industry just fine.

Most parents do not

  • Switch off 'In-App purchasing', 
  • Police kids use of debit, credit cards in browsers & elsewhere 

The Gaming industry knows this. We believe the gaming industry quietly works with Google and Apple to make these games addictive. There is a huge value in making your child come to you to request the use of a card. Use it to your advantage like saying 'No. Or go to bed now and will talk about it tomorrow. 

Loot boxes allow players to spend real money to unlock special characters, equipment or skins in a game. Experts accuse loot boxes of encouraging gambling because there is no assurance of anything good or valuable when you buy. 

Electronic Arts (EA) insists that loot boxes are not gambling, but “surprise mechanics”. A dozen serious studies clearly show the link between loot boxes and gambling addiction and make liars of the gaming industry. A bit like when Facebook hid results of an internal (Meta) Facebook report on Instagrams effect on girls' body images.

'It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it'- Famous quote by Upton Sinclair.

Gaming is already bigger than sports.

The Economist has proposed that gaming join the summer Olympics. It would be a huge money spinner. Sadly, kids & teenagers already game more than play and enjoy physical sports such as football or running. 

Belgium banned loot boxes.

Belgium banned loot boxes in 2018. The Netherlands tried following suit but have failed. Further studies in Belgium have shown that VPN and mobile versions provide Belgium gamers with easy ways around the ban. 

In the UK, Dr David Zendle of York St John University points out some parents have had their bank account emptied by loot boxes. His report says people are spending upwards of £1,000 per week on loot boxes. His report and others show that boys and students with lower educational attainment are especially at risk of succumbing to loot boxes.

The UK & Irish Governments have not moved against loot boxes. Ireland is important as many tech companies, including Apple, and Google, have EU headquarters in Dublin and Cork. 

Market size 2022 (estimated)

UK gaming - 36bl 

Ireland - €535 ml

Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has filed a bill with the Australian government to regulate classification for games with loot boxes.

The UK government told game publishers in 2022 it would legislate if the industry failed to self-regulate, despite then-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries admitting loot boxes pose the same risks as gambling to young people and children. The UK government is investigating loot boxes in the forthcoming review of the Gambling Act 2005.

Legislation may also not be the answer as enforcing it is difficult and advances in technology favour the industry. Persuasion may be much more fruitful in the long run. A Gaming Czars to be vested with powers such as:

  • Fine upto €5bl
  • Bandwidth Blocking
  • Withdrawal from Stores
  • Temporary bans, as in other industries
  • CEO, Founders & Investors Jail time 


Singaporean Minister for Cyber Security, S. Iswaran 2014.

'Gaming and gambling is increasingly becoming blurred. What may appear benign today can quickly morph into something a lot more sinister tomorrow.'

Academic evidence has established that engagement with loot boxes is clearly associated with problem gambling behaviours. Loot boxes, however, represent the face of the convergence of gambling and gaming. An ecosystem which includes eSports betting, social casinos and skin-betting, where monetisation includes downloadable content, season passes, events, add-ons and in-game items.

Articles of Interest

Articles, Links & Connections from the Internet Safety Talks site you might find interesting

  1. What is Sexting
  2. Help! I just saw a naked picture of my teen on her phone
  3. Teenagers need a good Online Reputation 
  4. Can the Police search your Phone?



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