Gambling / Loot Boxes

Spending real money to play a game of chance for a reward.

Some games contain forms of gambling. This is when you can spend real money to play a game of chance with the hope for a reward that is worth more than the money you put in. Gambling is a form of addiction, so this is a very powerful way to get people hooked on a game. In fact, it's so powerful that some governments around the world are putting laws in place to limit how much games can do this.

A Loot Box is a very common form of gambling that is found in modern games. Players purchase Loot Boxes using money or premium currency and when they open the box they get a random chance at getting an item. Valuable items are less likely to appear than regular items, and the number and quality of the items can be variable. Randomizing the rewards gives players an incentive to keep trying until they get the prize they want.

There are several psychological tricks that game developers can employ to make the gambling more powerful. The "Gambler's Fallacy" is a tendency for players to think that past events can affect the future probability of an event occurring. For example, if you have opened 10 Loot Boxes without success, you may mistakenly believe that the 11th Loot Box has a higher chance of breaking your dry spell and having something valuable inside of it. In reality, the odds are always the same and game developers may disguise this fact or suggest otherwise.

Another trick that is sometimes used is the "Hot-Hand Fallacy". This is the mistaken belief that a streak of luck will continue, when in fact the odds never change. The game may emphasize your successes and deemphasize your failures to make you feel like you are luckier than normal. This plays into a natural Optimism Bias that most people have.

Some people are also susceptible to Apophenia, which is tendency to see patterns or relationships between unrelated things. For example, suppose a game allows you to purchase multiple Loot Boxes at once. Someone may mistakenly notice that they get better rewards when they purchase Loot Boxes in multiples of three. Maybe this held true for a few times, but in reality the odds are always the same.


PewDiePie's Pixelings PewDiePie's Pixelings

Cat Game - The Cats Collector! Cat Game - The Cats Collector!
"You can spend the premium in-game currency to roll for “premium baskets” which just give you a random item from any of their previous events, among other uses of this mechanic"

Gems of War - Match 3 RPG Gems of War - Match 3 RPG
"You can spend money or ingame currency to purchase boxes that have higher level characters and materials."

Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat
""Kard packs" contain a random character and other items/bonuses. These are purchased using in-game currency ranging from 150 souls to 400 souls."

World of Tanks Blitz MMO World of Tanks Blitz MMO
"BIG YES. Tier 10 reward vehicles with 2% drop rate at most in loot boxes for up to 10$ per box. Daily boxes that give randomn items that can also be bought with premium currency."

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"I can’t think of a fair way to get desired items without loot boxes. The ceo admitted that the odds of this are artificial and are really meaningless."

Magic Duels Magic Duels
"Have to spend in game currency on blind packs of cards-just like a TCG."

Roblox Roblox
"As Rōblox is a platform of games (rather than a single game in itself), developers are allowed to implement gambling mechanisms. However, Rōblox had recently enforced a rule that requires developers to disclose probability information for each 'loot-box'. https://devforum.rob​​-around-users-paying​-for-random-virtual-​items/307189"

Grub Guardian Grub Guardian
"if you buy the better areas you get better loot for wizard101"

Tokyo Afterschool Summoners Tokyo Afterschool Summoners