The world of video games has changed massively over a short number of years. While in the beginning, people would buy a console to play a limited range of games, these days there are endless options open to people.

Gone are the days of buying a disc, inserting it into a console, and then playing it until completion. Now there are constant add-ons to titles, as well as massive online communities of players, with updates coming on a seemingly never-ending basis.

There are many different elements involved in the design and presentation of video games today that can often lead to addictive behaviour. The goal of this article is to explore if this is the case in a wider sense or if it is just a case-by-case issue.

The Old School Buy-and-Play Model

For so many years, there was a standard model in place when people were looking to play video games. The idea was pretty simple – you buy the game and everything you could ever need would be fully included on the single disc. This means that you would not need any extras in order to get access to additional weapons, game modes, characters, or skins.

In some cases, these different in-game items might be locked until you reach a certain progress level, but they were always available to the purchaser without any additional steps or purchases. This is opposed to gamers having to buy expansion packs to get additional content or to purchase loot boxes in order to be in with a chance of randomly getting a certain type of reward.

The Prevalence of Loot Boxes

There has been a lot of controversy over recent years regarding the inclusion of loot boxes in games. These are systems in place that can generate huge additional revenue for video game publishers.

They are a way for people to be in with a chance of getting a certain in-game item. While you might be able to earn credits while playing the game to then buy loot boxes, in most cases you will need real currency to unlock them. There will be a random chance allocated to you securing certain items.

Most games with loot boxes will have different levels of rarity for certain items. The rarer the item, the harder it will be to get it through a loot box. These are ‘chance’ crates and oftentimes you cannot buy these items directly using currency if you wanted to. Some games will offer items that are not just aesthetic but will actually give the holder a competitive advantage.

Some popular video games that offer loot boxes include the likes of Dota, Fortnite, and Call of Duty. Numerous European countries have banned games from offering loot boxes to players such as in the Netherlands and Belgium. This is because many authorities see loot boxes as being akin to gambling.

The Role of Mobile Games

Another common business model for games these days is offering them as free-to-play titles. These are commonly seen in many mobile games. The gameplay will usually be free in the beginning, but there will eventually be a certain type of bottleneck then in place.

There could be a limit on play time that can only be removed by spending real money. Otherwise, you might need to randomly acquire the ability to use a certain type of character by having a system similar to loot boxes in place.

It is the unlockable characters that usually look and perform the best, giving people an incentive to try to unlock them. The style of many mobile games makes them particularly appealing to children and creates an urge for them to collect them all.

NFTs, the Metaverse, and Crypto Casinos

It is hard to go anywhere on the internet today without hearing about NFTs, the metaverse, or cryptocurrency. The emergence of the metaverse is taking the world of video game purchases and transactions to a whole other level.

Having access to virtual assets is becoming more and more popular, with people buying up vast swathes of the metaverse and NFTs to try to get in on the action at an early stage. The crypto casino sites tend to be at the forefront of many technological developments, and they are often embracing the metaverse already.

The best crypto casinos have been seen purchasing prominent virtual real estate assets to try to appeal as much as possible to gamblers. There are virtual reality crypto casinos where you can play leading casino games in an ultra-realistic manner. This is another massive side to the equation.

Are Loot Boxes Akin to Gambling?

There are many sides to every story, but there are certainly certain aspects of loot boxes that almost undeniably look similar to gambling. This is because the random prize crates often trigger the same type of reward mechanism in people as one would get through the playing of slot machines.

This is down to there being a random prize up for grabs with each spin. Just like hitting a big jackpot while playing a slot machine, people are in with a chance of earning some highly sought after and lucrative in-game items through loot boxes.

In certain games, these in-game items can be exchanged for real money through the likes of auction platforms and the Steam marketplace. When people sell these items, they very often dive straight back into playing more loot boxes in order to try to do the same over and over again.

Conclusion

It is obvious that modern-day video games often do whatever they can to make sure that people are playing them longer and are spending more money while doing so. Video game publishers have a whole host of powerful ways in which they can achieve these goals.

People are now waking up to the true addictiveness of many video game titles. This is why the authorities in certain nations are taking matters into their own hands and banning the likes of loot boxes. It looks like it is only a matter of time before this list lengthens considerably.

Previous articleDimitrie Mihaylov, CSO at Farcana: How Immersive Approach is Changing Web3 Gaming
Next articleHow to gamble responsibly 
British born administrator and developer helping serve and promote open source content to the MMORPG development community since 2001.