UK study says over 1 in 10 young gamers go into debt due to lootbox spending habits

    
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The pushback against lockboxes in gaming in the UK continues in spite of the matter not exactly making non-stop headlines. A new study from the Gambling Health Alliance (GHA), an organization established by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), has found that a large number of young gamers are running into fiscal trouble due to lootbox spending.

According to the study, which has been made available for download, 31% of gamers say they are unaware of how much they’ve spent on lootboxes. In addition, one in ten players borrowed money they couldn’t repay to spend on lootboxes, 11% used their parents’ debit or credit card to buy lootboxes, and almost one in six or 15% took money from their parents without permission. There are even three edge cases where a child’s lootbox spending habits caused families to re-mortgage their homes to cover the costs.

Lootbox mechanics are having negative effects on the experience of games as well. According to the study, players feel that games with lockboxes are either pay-to-win, that lockboxes have unfairly low odds of getting valuable items, and that the features around lootboxes are “especially addictive.”

This new study is part of the RSPH’s #LidOnLoots anti-lockbox campaign, which is calling for the UK government to class them as gambling and to be regulated accordingly. The RSPH, readers will recall, has made other efforts for this action such as releasing a similar report on how lootboxes affect young people.

source: RSPH.org (1, 2) via GamesIndustry.biz
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Arktouros

Oh boy the yearly recycling of garbage.

The information cited from previous “studies” wildly varies. In one instance they cite a survey based study of around 2900 kids and another they draw heavy conclusions from a survey of about 80 kids. Some are previous “studies” they’ve done themselves creating a self-fulfilling circle jerk of “studies” where one points to a past one they’ve done as if it’s some solid facts information.

I was entirely unable to find the actual survey they did as well, just their “short sheet” which doesn’t actually link their survey results directly or where they got any of this information from.

While I understand the sentiment of wanting to remove lock boxes these tactics are simply put bottom barrel scraping. Shitty, borderline pseudoscience with surveys don’t give an accurate picture. Also crying out “think of the children” honestly just makes me think of the parents and their role in their children’s activities more than the children. If you seriously want to remove them there simply has be better arguments than this.

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

We can talk about how responsible parents should do one thing or another with their children, but the problem is that there are always going to be a lot of uninformed parents or parents unwilling or unable to do the job of a parent that isn’t just keeping their kids alive.

Corporations that prey on vulnerable children or adults with gambling addictions are, on the other hand, a much easier approach to deal with the issue. Don’t put gambling into games targeted at children. Tax and regulate the crap out of apps/games that have no shame and insist on profiting from gambling.

I don’t personally give a crap about the health of an economy if that economy is being propped up on stuff like this. Pull the rug out from under these bastards and let them use their business and economic power to adapt and evolve or leave the market entirely.

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Adam Russell

The parents should own the account, and the account should have a toggle that the parents can set that doesnt allow in game purchases and require a special password to be able to untoggle it.

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Arktouros

Most systems have this kinda protection on them.

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Rndomuser

There are even three edge cases where a child’s lootbox spending habits caused families to re-mortgage their homes to cover the costs.

I got one question about reading all of those: where the hell were their parents when those children were buying stuff?

Seriously, though, it is an absolute 100% fault of the parent to let the child to get to such stage. As a parent you must spend enough time on your child, to teach your child to be responsible with your money, to teach about what gambling is, and to spot the problem and help your child overcome it before it becomes a significant issue. Or, if you don’t actually care about your child enough to do all of that, to let other, more loving people to adopt and raise your child instead.

And no, government should not be doing your job of preventing the few unfortunate people from being affected by gambling addiction. And the government actually cannot prevent it. A MMORPG game may not have any kind of lootboxes with low chance of winning any item, however it may still have player-run casinos, which may still affect people with gambling addiction and make them do things like buy in-game currency with real-life currency, resulting in same outcome as described by the article. The developers of the game may also not spot such player-run gambling soon enough, or simply may not care about it (and I don’t believe they should, responsible people who know when to stop and who know not to bet more than they can afford should have a right to enjoy gambling, regardless of their age).

So yea, TL;DR: any kind of government-forced regulations regarding gambling in online games is useless because gambling will continue to exist in different forms even if developers themselves will not be selling such items as lootboxes with low chance of winning or will be labeling them as “gambling items”, and if parents really care about their children not becoming addicted to it – they should spend more time with their children on teaching them about dangers, as well as monitoring their spending habits better to spot such behavior early and deal with it as soon as possible.

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Roger Melly

While I agree with you sentiments to some degree I don’t think its quite as simple as that. Many parents are struggling to make a living so they can provide for their children and just don’t have the energy or the time to watch over everything their children do . If they did that wouldn’t be good for the child either because they do need some degree of freedom .

Developers need to be more responsible, if it takes legislation to achieve that then I am quite happy to see the back of lootboxes .

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McGuffn

The parents were probably busy fabricating their child’s twitch ban or something similarly sensible and thus couldn’t conduct due oversight of the spending habits of their 6 year olds.

It’s really depressing. I mean, intuitively you know that some folks are just terrible and shouldn’t be parents but then people really step out of the shadows to drive the point home in new and inexplicable ways.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

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Danny Smith

I would, ironically i suppose, bet you good money that most of these are not mmo whalefeed or fortnite zoomer bait but straight up footysimps dropping this on god damned fifa on consoles. Its the absolute bottom tier mouth breather con without compare and there are so many marks for that series in the UK its like Call of Duty for americans. New year? new feefa innit blud? sound, gotta rebuy epic packs to pull ngubu for norg fc too right bruv.

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Mark Jacobs

One of the many reasons I hate such tactics and why I won’t use them.

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2Ton Gamer

9 in 10 old gamers don’t give a hoot.

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treehuggerhannah

I can honestly say the amount of money I’ve spent on lootboxes is $0.

If the game gives me the ability to open it for free, I’ll do it, but I don’t pay money for them. If I get locked lootboxes as drops, they get vendored or trashed. Loot boxes in the cash shop just don’t exist for me.

I simply don’t have a gambling type of personality. I do spend money on cosmetics, but I need to know exactly what I’m getting and exactly how much it will cost. Otherwise my anxiety kicks in and it’s not fun.

That said, I’m an adult with full responsibility for my choices. I don’t know what it would be like to experience as an impressionable kid. (Loot boxes in games weren’t really a thing when I was that age, so I honestly don’t know.) I think this kind of thing is really bad for a kid’s brain and what feels rewarding to them.

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McGuffn

If games can save your payment info they should save a running total of your expenditures.

Also, I took out a mortgage so I could buy a couple houses in Elder Scrolls Online.