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PUBG in gambling controversy?

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Bluehole
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

One has to wonder whether PUBG Corp regrets announcing the latest update to their game, seeing as how the changes to the crate system sparked controversy around whether it constitutes gambling. Responses from the ESRB and U.K. Gambling Commission have been underwhelming, reiterating concerns without any actual action.

The update introduced a new crate system with two additional crates boasting increased drop likelihood, where one crate is free and the other requires a key. Test servers are granted 100K BP and 6 Early Bird keys, unified keys that open Desperado and Gamescom crates. PUBG Corp says that crates are purely cosmetic in nature, which technically means they are in the clear, but they can be cashed in - and that’s where the entire ethical dilemma starts.

Calling on government regulators has had the same result as paying for a newspaper advert - ESRB and UKGC recognised the risk and warned parents to stay alert, but ultimately said the line between gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred. Apparently, as long as the item in question has no value outside the game, it does not constitute gambling. And there’s the catch - the technicality of whether an item’s value is confined to and within the game. If it is, it is not gambling.

AltChar[undefined]So, real cash is 'confined to the game'?

Unfortunately, as you can see in the listing above, these items, even though cosmetic in nature, still blow up on the Steam market. A simple Google search will yield hundreds of reports of players earning the money they paid for the game, and then some. If we are interpreting these laws right, buying a theoretical £40 worth of cosmetic items involves two components - £40 and PUBG cosmetic items, only one of which is confined to the game. So, isn’t it more accurate to say that half of this value, and we all know that even half is plain pushing it, is actually real world money?

Some claim that the issue is indicative of a pressing concern in the industry, whereas others go as far as to blame the surge in PUBG cheating on crate boxes. To be fair, introducing a concept of scarcity value is bound to result in mining practices eventually, but it would still require a meticulous comparison between dynamics of crate system changes and cheating. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments - do you think that the 'blurred lines' excuse merits turning a blind eye in this case?