After the state of Hawaii and the country Belgium both announced actions against loot boxes, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has issued a statement fighting back against claims that loot boxes are gambling.
In a statement issued to Rolling Stone, the ESA said "Loot boxes are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences. They are not gambling."
The ESA's statement follows a statement put out by the ESRB several weeks ago (the ESRB was founded by the ESA) reiterating much of the same points. That ultimately it is the players who decide to purchase a loot box to enhance their gaming experience.
EA kickstarted a whirlwind of controversy following the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2. Gamers accused the company of promoting unfair practices with its loot boxes, which players accused was almost forcing them to buy loot boxes to play competitively online. EA issued several changes to its loot box system before ultimately announcing that it would temporarily remove them completely from Battlefront 2.
However, the controversy already spread outside of video game press and was picked up by outlets like MSNBC. Amid the fallout, government regulatory agencies like Belgium's Gaming Commission, and state representatives in the U.S. like Hawaii's Chris Lee, announced that loot boxes were either gambling or predatory and would be pursuing actions to have them banned.
You can read the ESA's full statement below:
"Loot boxes are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences. They are not gambling. Depending on the game design, some loot boxes are earned and others can be purchased. In some games, they have elements that help a player progress through the video game. In others, they are optional features and are not required to progress or succeed in the game. In both cases, the gamer makes the decision."