Video loot boxes are “psychologically akin to gambling”, a new Australian study has claimed.
The study, conducted by the Australian Environment and Communications Reference Committee, also found that loot boxes and microtransactions could lead to problem gambling.
Over 7,400 video game enthusiasts were surveyed for the study and the results were presented during a public hearing in Canberra, Australia, earlier this week as part of an Australian Senate inquiry into micro-transactions and chance-based items in video games.
According to PCGamer, the study found that those who suffered from problem gambling were more likely to spend money on loot boxes, rewards in video games that contain items hidden from view until after they have been won or purchased.
Authors of the study also suggested that loot boxes could act as a gateway to problem gambling before highlighting that the chance-based microtransactions share “important characteristics” with problem gambling.
The study reads: “These results support the position of academics who claim that loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling.”
Results suggested that spending large amounts of money on loot boxes were associated with “problematic levels of spending on other forms of gambling” and that the excitement players get when buying loot boxes could lead to problem gambling.
Australia’s Environment and Communications Reference Committee (ECRC) ruled that games with loot boxes should be restricted to players of legal gambling age which is 18 in the country.
There’s been a recent uproar over loot boxes recently. Earlier this month, several games developers removed loot boxes from their games in Belgium after the country banned lot boxes. However, EA Games, the developer behind games such as FIFA, has refused to do so and now faces a criminal investigation.