The Entertainment Software Rating Board says loot boxes are not gambling. An ESRB spokesperson told Kotaku that the organization classifies loot boxes, like the ones in Overwatch, Battlefront II, or Middle-earth: The Shadow of War, as they would blind card packs in collectible card games. While you may not get exactly what you wanted, you do get something for your money, unlike a real-world wager that can result in just a plain loss of money.
“Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”
The ESRB does have a Real Gambling descriptor that results in an automatic Adults Only rating for a game. “Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency.” They also have a Simulated Gambling descriptor that specifies that no real money is involved.
Calls for the ESRB to classify loot boxes as gambling have ramped up in recent days thanks to the proliferation of the business model in some high-profile games. Despite experts pointing out the addictive qualities of loot boxes, (some of those same experts were even hired by game companies to design loot boxes for maximum effectiveness) the ESRB says otherwise due to the technicality of most systems not allowing a zero payout. Get on it gamblers and addictive personalities! Loot crates are okay and they’re not opening without your help!