Addictive Behaviours journal has recently published a study by the University of British Columbia (UBC), whose research showed that loot box mechanics are significantly overlapping with gambling in many respects, which requires regulation.
The research has been conducted by UBC's Centre for Gambling Research, and they claim that the correlation between the two necessitates a regulated approach in the implementation of loot boxes.
Dubbed 'Associations between loot box use, problematic gaming and gambling, and gambling-related cognitions', the study "tests relationships between gaming involvement, engagement with loot boxes, and their associations with disordered gambling and gambling-related cognitions."
It involved 144 adult gamers and 113 UBC undergraduates, who were asked about their gaming habits, monthly expenditure, the Internet Gaming Disorder Scale and others related to loot box-related behaviours and perceptions.
Most test subjects agreed that loot boxes represent some form of gambling, but the researchers looked for much more than just opinions - they needed a viable link.
"Typically we did have an association where the more one spent monthly, the more likely they were to endorse questions that associated with problematic gambling behaviour and/or problematic or risky loot box use", said the study's lead author Gabriel Brooks.
Now, the methodology used in the research is too complicated to explain in brief, so we'll just skip to the conclusion part.
"These results demonstrate that besides the surface similarity of loot boxes to gambling, loot box engagement is correlated with gambling beliefs and problematic gambling behaviour in adult gamers", says the study's Abstract.
What this effectively means is that loot boxes could soon become a voluntary feature that players have to apply for. After all, in light of this link, giving loot-boxes to a recovering gambling addict, for instance, sounds way worse than the term predatory gambling would suggest.
Many game companies have already chosen to step away from loot box mechanics, with countries like Belgium having eradicated them from their gaming space altogether.