In recent years, many video games have turned to new approaches to make more money. One thing many game developers have done to increase their profits is to introduce microtransactions. However, this is a problem in its own right.
Many video games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and FIFA Ultimate Team feature their own loot box system, or something similar to it. Loot boxes, crates, cases, chests, bundles and card packs are, in essence, virtual games of chance which can be purchased in video games. Players use real money to buy these virtual items, which contain a chance selection of rewards. The likelihood of winning rare items is slim, so players are encouraged to spend more to increase their chances of success.
I know the effects of this from my experiences from years of playing FIFA Ultimate Team. In this popular game mode in FIFA, players try to assemble the best squad possible by buying players or buying packs with the in-game currency, FIFA coins. However, it is also possible to open packs using FIFA points, which can be purchased using real money. The problem with this, however, is the chances of getting a good player is slim to none, and EA Sports, the developer of the game, do not disclose the pack odds.
One Reddit user conducted a study where he spent about $4,200 on about 450,000 FIFA points, with which he was able to open 651 packs. He obtained a 90+ rated player once through all the packs he opened, about 0.02% of the time. If that’s not gambling I don’t know what is.
EA Sports designs their packs to be flashy and shiny as they run multiple promotions throughout the course of the game with cards that are very rare. Players spend their money in a futile attempt to attain one of these players, because of the rarity and shininess associated with them.
The Belgian Gambling Commission banned FIFA packs from their country citing them as an illegal form of online gambling. More countries should follow their example and ban these loot boxes that are designed to exploit children who don’t know any better.