PEGI and ESRB weigh in on loot crate gambling kerfuffle

PEGI and ESRB weigh in on loot crate gambling kerfuffle

Ratings boards from Europe and North America have given their verdict on whether loot crates constitute gambling.

ESRB, which looks after the USA, told Kotaku that it doesn’t think loot boxes are gambling, arguing that users receive rewards no matter what happens.

"While there's an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don't want)," the organisation said.

“We think of it as a similar principle to collectable card games: Sometimes you'll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you've had your eye on for a while. But other times you'll end up with a pack of cards you already have."

Meanwhile, PEGI has said it cannot define what gambling is, deferring responsibility on the matter to a national gambling commission.

"We cannot define what constitutes gambling," operations director Dirk Bosmans told WCCFTech.

"That is the responsibility of a national gambling commission. Our gambling content descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it's done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that."

Loot crates have become a contentious topic recently due to their inclusion in single player games, such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Review aggregator OpenCritic has said it will be putting branding on its scores for games that feature this model.

ESRB and PEGI weighing into the debate follows YouTube star Totalbiscuit saying that games featuring this content should be rated higher as they are arguably not suitable for a younger audience.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.