Opinion: Mutatis Mutandis, Loot Boxes Are The Same Kind Of Gambling As TCG Booster Packs
Pokemon Card Packs

In the last few months there has been a lot of talk about having the US government step in and regulate loot boxes. This would be a huge mistake. You see, if the US government were to successfully draft and pass legislation to regulate loot boxes then it will open the door to having a lot more things regulated in the same manner. TCG booster packs, blind box toys, baseball and other trading cards, loot crates, and gacha machines all use the same core mechanics to separate you from your money. In other words, loot boxes are the same kind of gambling as booster packs, mutatis mutandis.

Now, this issue has been argued all across the internet. There are those who would agree with me as well as those who would call me completely fucking nuts. Allow me to clarify why those who think I’m nuts are dead ass wrong. At the core, loot boxes and booster packs are both purchasable containers. These containers consist of a set number of items from a pool of items. There is a set chance to obtain specific items. The items you can obtain have a perceived value based on the rarity and usefulness of each item. The rarity and usefulness of the items are determined by the company offering the loot box or booster pack.

Now, those who disagree with me usually present the same misinformed arguments. Digital items are different from physical ones. Digital items can be wiped away when the game servers go down. You can’t resell digital items. Children can too easily buy loot boxes. Booster packs are meant for stores to buy not individuals. You can buy loose cards. Loot boxes are filled with useless or cosmetic items. Loot boxes target kids and you must think of the kids! Every one of these arguments are completely erroneous. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

Digital items being different from physical items is inconsequential as the general public has already accepted and agreed that digital items are valuable commodities. No one would claim a digital copy of a movie or video game wasn’t “real” so applying this argument to loot box rewards is silly and outdated. Furthermore, basing your argument on the worst case scenario that digital items can be lost if/when a game server goes down is the same as saying booster packs are useless because you can have them stolen. In other words, a useless point.

Reselling cards, buying loose cards, and booster packs being meant for stores and not individuals are argument that are very closely related. The ability to buy and sell individual cards is byproduct of the game and not something designed into the system because it cuts into the profits of the card makers. In fact, if the makers of card games could, they would make it illegal to buy and sell loose cards. The other point, packs being made for stores to purchase and not individuals is completely disingenuous. The fact of the matter is that card companies want to sell as many booster packs as they can, regardless if it is a store or an individual that buys them.

The rewards in a loot box may be cosmetic but to the consumer it still has value. Whether it is a particular skin or a fancy hat, these items are no different from foil or special cards. Whether you feel that a cosmetic item is worth it or not doesn’t matter because other people, those who want them, do feel they are worth it. If we go around deciding for other people what is and isn’t worth buying we might as well become full blown socialists. Part of being American is having the freedom to blow all your money on useless crap if you want to and anyone who thinks otherwise can kiss my taint.

Well, it doesn’t matter because the people who disagree with me have the perfect argument. Loot boxes target kids and are too easy for kids to purchase. Think of the children dammit! Pokemon cards, gacha machines filled with assorted  plastic toys, and blind box toys all target kids yet no one is rallying to have them regulated. The argument usually being that most of those are cheap or need physical money to buy so they can’t be obtained so easily. That leads to the “gotcha” argument, loot boxes can be purchased very easily by kids. The fact of the matter is, loot boxes can’t be purchased by kids without help from their idiot parents. You see, parents need to pay attention to what games their kids are playing and not allow lil’ Timmy to use their credit cards all willy nilly. As soon as parents go back to acting like parents and stop trying to be friends with their kids this whole loot box issue will go away.

As I said in the opening paragraph, if you successfully lobby for loot boxes to get regulated then you will open the doors for damn near every other randomized reward system to get regulated. The government is not your mommy or daddy, so stop running to it to fix the problems in your house.


Tony the Gamer Dad or TonyTGD, has been a gamer since the days of Colecovision and Atarii and a video game journalist since the early 2000's. Having plied his trade over countless websites, online magazines, and his own personal blog he has come to One Angry Gamer to share his unique perspective of both an old school gamer and father to a teenage daughter. Ethical and honest, TonyTGD always gives his own opinion on games, despite how big or small the developers behind it are. Need to get in touch? Feel free to use the contact page

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