Loot Boxes, Gacha and Gambling in Gaming

Have you noticed any gambling elements when playing video games? There is a rising concern that gambling-like features like loot boxes are becoming more common in video games.

Loot Boxes

If you’re into video games, then you’ve probably heard about loot boxes. They can contain useful items, in-game currency, new clothing or even characters that could change the way you play the game!

9 in 10 young people report that loot boxes are available in the games they play

Fast Forward Gambling Education Toolkit 2024

You might notice that a common practice if a game includes loot boxes is that the game is free.

Typically the game will make their money from selling tempting items in these boxes through a range of tactics –

  • They might collaborate with a popular show or franchise so you could play as a movie character in a game.
  • The items in some loot boxes may be tied to a limited-time event, which means you’ll need to buy them quickly before they’re gone.
  • You might get some free loot boxes if you log in regularly. This might not earn them money but it encourages the game to have active players.
@young.scot

What do you think about lootboxes? The UK games industry has published new guidelines to protect children and young people. #Lootboxes #Gaming #Microtransactions #YoungScot #UKGaming

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Gacha

You might have also heard the term Gacha if you play mobile games. Similar to Loot Boxes you’ll typically be gambling for characters or upgrades that make the game play differently or a lot easier. Gacha games typically play like a lottery or a draw where your odds of the highest rewards are significantly lower. However they also usually offer you more chances at drawing for these rewards for free.

Popular Gacha games typically have quite a dramatic way of drawing for characters using lights, sounds and effects that get flashier the higher the reward.

These games usually have other sneaky incentives that encourage you to keep drawing:

  • Increased odds – As you continue to draw you might get increased odds of success. For example if you’ve not got the character you want after a certain amount of draws you are automatically guaranteed them.
  • You might find with Gacha games that you get far more draws than you do in other games for Loot Boxes. You might get some draws just for logging in, playing the game or doing weekly challenges.
  • The game might introduce new characters that make the game significantly easier than with older ones, you might not like the look of them but they could be vital to making the game easier. This is usually referred to as power creep.

Gacha games are almost always free and you can usually always earn rewards to get characters which means as long as you are responsible and save for things you want, you’ll likely be able to get them in a good Gacha game. The risk can start when you start to spend more and more on them.

Tips to reduce gambling harms

Here are some things you can try if gambling-like gaming activities are negatively impacting you:

  • Talk to someone you trust if gambling or in-app purchases in games are causing you to spend more than you can afford.
  • Set a spending limit and stick to it.
  • Use a gift card when buying items within a game so that you stick to the amount you can afford.
  • Set a time limit when playing video games.
  • Don’t gamble if you’re feeling down or lonely.
  • Remember gambling-like elements in games are designed to keep you playing.
  • Balance gaming with other hobbies.

Where to find support

If gaming or gambling is negatively impacting you, it’s important to talk about how you’re feeling and the effect it’s having on your life. There are organisations you can speak to confidentially about your situation who can offer advice and support.

  • For information on emotional wellbeing and where you can find mental health support, visit our AyeFeel page.
  • Internet Matters has an Online Gaming Advice Hub.
  • Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity.
  • Young Minds has information on how gaming can affect mental health.
  • Childline: 0800 1111 (open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day)
  • Samaritans: 116 123 (open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day)
  • Papyrus: 0800 068 4141 (open 365 days a year, 9am – midnight)

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