Are Loot Boxes Similar to Slots?


Slot machines have always remained as one of the most popular casino options available and show no signs of slowing in their popularity – the mechanics are easy to understand, and with a wide variety of options available, there’s plenty of variety to the way slots work. One of the big questions that has arisen lately is whether or not the loot box and microtransaction mechanics that have found their way into many of the biggest games resemble gambling, and more particularly if they are at all similar to slots.

The argument comes from the very way that many of these mechanics for loot boxes in particular are styled – the first to show widespread success had been within the large esports title of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as back in 2013 an update released loot boxes that contained cosmetic items for the game. The visual and sound were of the most concern – opening the loot box would play a slot like reel with a similar ticker sound, in what would appear to be something very similar, and whilst this has since changed somewhat there are still resemblances to the first approach. The skin market for the game was once so big it had been valued at around $8 billion just three years after its inception, and whilst the mechanic does remain in game, the betting market that was built around it has been replaced with something more familiar as options at cs-go betting fall more in line with regular sports betting.

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One of the big moves to come recently was within Dutch courts targeted towards EA and their popular game FIFA for similar reasons with the player packs being considered as gambling, and signals yet another move to have loot boxes redefined and even perhaps removed. Whilst changes have been coming slowly such as adjustments so that winning odds must be defined and shown to the consumer, this is the first instance where a full outright ban and huge fine has been placed and expected, but still does little to deter further addition or promotion in newer games as the impact has been so profitable.

Whether or not slots and loot boxes are the same or similar may not longer be an important question, but the links to gambling have become clear and have been a target for combatting the growth, but this will certainly take plenty of time and uncertainty still remains – unless a heavy hand can be placed on them, they will likely consider changing just enough to be considered differently, but not enough to be removed entirely.

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