A loot box is a digital “mystery box” that is purchased within a video game. It contains randomized in-game content that is unknown to the player until it is opened. Although some video games lets players obtain loot boxes through normal gameplay, they can also usually be purchased for real money.
The video games industry is a huge market that involves billions of consumers worldwide. Loot boxes is a major revenue generator for many companies in this industry, and it’s projected that selling loot boxes will generate more than $ 20 billion by 2025.1 This means that a lot of consumers are spending money on loot boxes.
As we show in the report, companies employ a lot of tricks to push consumers into spending money on loot boxes. We believe that many of these tricks add up to unfair and predatory practices. This is particularly concerning because many games with loot boxes are also geared toward kids and minors. There are also countless stories of consumers (kids and adults) who have been led to spend exorbitant amounts of money on loot boxes, demonstrating a clear financial harm.
It is fine that some video games contain options to spend money in-game. However, this needs to be done in a fair and open manner. Consumers should not be unduly manipulated into spending money, and companies must refrain from using dark patterns or otherwise exploit cognitive biases to consumer detriment.