America should ban loot boxes
A plague haunts modern gaming: loot boxes. According to TechTarget, a loot box is “an in-game purchase consisting of a virtual container that awards players with items and modifications based on chance.” They have been shown to be as addictive as gambling, and they’ve ruined many games. Countries are already taking steps to ban loot boxes.
Loot boxes ruin games today because they either make you an overpowered god, like in “Battlefront 2,” or are the only way to move forward in the game’s story, like in “Shadow of Mordor.“ This shows a growing problem that has manifested in the past decade and has slowly made its way into mainstream triple A games like “Assassin’s Creed,” “Battlefield 5,” and “Call of Duty Black Ops 4,” which, this year, put loot boxes in after initial reviews to sneak them under critics’ noses.
Let’s first focus on one type of loot boxes, the ones that make you a god in the game you are playing. In “Battlefront 2,” for example, loot boxes not only halt progression in the game but also contain cards and attachments to the weapons that overpower the characters. This would make players more powerful than the “heroes” in the game, who are supposed to be the most powerful players on the field, but because of loot boxes a player can get this level of power by paying for it.
The second type of loot boxes are the ones that will be used as a paywall (a section of a game that you either spend hours grinding through or just pay for with money). One of the biggest offenders in the gaming industry is “Shadow of Mordor,” an entirely single-player game. This game is a struggle to get through, and although it seems easy and breezy in the beginning, it quickly spikes in difficulty. Then, it forces players who don’t want to pay their way through to grind for hours to finish the game. Not only does the developer Monolith Productions make a huge paywall in a single player game, but they advertise it everywhere, on the home screen, in the middle of the game, and even in the pause menu.
According to The Guardian, loot boxes have also been shown to be addictive and have the same negative effect as slot machines, as there is a direct link between gambling and loot boxes. This is because of the variable ratio reinforcement schedule, which prevents you from knowing when you will win so that you keep coming back until you win and start the process over (or worse, until you run out of money). This mostly affects kids who are easily manipulated by bright colors, flashing lights, sounds, and the variable reinforcement schedule. This alone should be enough for America to ban loot boxes.
Other countries are already fighting Electronic Arts (E.A.) to pass laws to ban loot boxes. After fighting for months, E.A conceded and withdrew all loot boxes and monetary items in the country of Belgium.
America should follow Belgium’s example and loot boxes should be abolished. They ruin games for consumers and take advantage of young kids.