ESRB, the board which rates all games released in North America, issued a statement to Kotaku today after some raised questions about whether or not loot boxes / supply drops should be given a gambling content descriptor. ESRB says in a statement that they do not believe loot boxes are gambling because they do give players items every time one opens a box, even though you may not like what you get.
“ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling,” said an ESRB spokesperson in an e-mail. “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). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible 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.”
ESRB rates every game that releases in North America with a age rating (Mature, Teen, Everyone) and additional content descriptors. ESRB website states that they do have content descriptors for gambling: Real Gambling or Simulated Gambling. ESRB says, however, those are used only for a game rated Adults Only (A-O, 18+). That rating is rarely ever used and most publishers avoid getting that rating because many retailers in America will refuse to sell the game.
Kotaku says ESRB pointed them to the fact that ESRB does have elemental descriptors where they reveal games do offer in-game Digital Purchases, but those are not necessary shown on the box art itself.
Questions continue to rise about the amount of games that have loot boxes. Destiny 2, Star Wars Battlefront II, and Shadow of Mordor have come under fire these past few weeks for how much the game relies on loot boxes for some items. Call of Duty has had Supply Drop system since Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. While Call of Duty: WWII will have supply drop system, Activision has not announced the specifics on how each will work. They have already confirmed Call of Duty Points will be available for Call of Duty: WWII shortly after the title’s launch in November.