Videogame loot box gambling is about to get interesting

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The match ends and congratulations! You got a loot box reward! Do you click the button to unlock the chest? Do you scrap it? If you don’t get what you wanted, do you dole out some real-world money for some more turns at the slot machine? If only you knew what the odds were of getting that rare skin. Thanks to a new law in China, you might. (Translation available here.) Beginning May 1st, 2017, any company issuing virtual prizes with random rewards, like cosmetic skins that might pop out of loot chests, must publicly post the draw probabilities for each prize, and the draw results must be available for public review for at least 90 days.

China’s stance seems to be that if you’re going to have gambling mechanics in your game, then you’ll be subject to the same kinds of laws that regulate gambling in their country. In this case, companies will have to openly state the odds of winning, something most videogame loot reward schemes do not currently do.

This law may have far-reaching effects in the rest of the world for a lot of videogame companies. Unless publishers create specific rewards and odds tables for their games in China, (which may be more trouble than its worth) we could all start seeing exactly how rare that one mega-ultra-legendary skin is in the game. Regardless, like similar regulations for gambling, it’s doubtful that this will put any crimp in the brisk business of rolling the virtual dice.