For years there has been contention amongst the gaming community regarding microtransactions and loot boxes. In April, Belgium even declared loot boxes a form of gambling. However, Valve’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive is perhaps the most controversial of these systems as it spawned a gambling chain online - something which was easily accessible to young, vulnerable people.
DOTA 2, another Valve game and a free-to-play MOBA, is a goliath in the industry, rivalling the likes of League of Legends. The team working on DOTA 2 have just updated their loot box system, allowing players to view their escalating odds so that they can see the chance of getting the extremely rare items.
They operate like slot machines, but very few of these titles allow for players to turn their in-game cosmetics or unlockables into real money
Escalating odds refers to the process wherein each through which time a player purchases a loot box, their odds get better until eventually they are guaranteed one of these items. Although, this could cost well over £100, which raises the question of if it's worth it.
The reason that Valve is allowing players to see these odds is not because of a threatening letter from the government - the reason why they altered it for the Netherlands, but instead because of a glitch where the odds would never be guaranteed, despite players spending small fortunes on the game.
One question remains, however: will loot boxes continue to appear in gaming? Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Counter Strike, League of Legends and many, many more titles feature these digital microtransactions that fail to guarantee a high-quality drop. They operate like slot machines, but very few of these titles allow for players to turn their in-game cosmetics or unlockables into real money.
The reason that Valve is allowing players to see these odds is not because of a threatening letter from the government
Star Wars Battlefront II is the most recent example of loot boxes going terribly wrong for public-relations: gamers were truly angered by their existence being more than an optional feature as they were integrated into the progression system of the game. And so, the debate as to whether they constitute gambling continues, both in the press and amongst regulators.