It’s a Saturday morning, your friends have already texted you to get on the game; headset on, you turn on the playstation and open Fortnite. The first thing you see is an advertisement for a new loot box on sale for $5.99. As soon as you see it your wallet is already open, you just have to see what’s inside.
These types of video games with a “gacha” or “loot box” system are generating lots of money and becoming more and more common. A gacha/loot box is a sealed mystery item in-game that can be opened using in-game/real life currency, that may contain a really good prize or a mediocre one. Some of the games that include or have included this system are Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, and Genshin Impact.
Gabriel Armena, a college student at NJCU, has played Genshin Impact and Fortnite, but he doesn’t partake in the gacha or loot box systems of either game.
“I haven’t spent any money on those aspects of the game because they’re basically a scam,” Armena said.
Many of these games’ main source of income is the gacha or loot box aspects of the game. Genshin Impact is the fastest mobile app to garner $1 billion, taking only six months. Many fans and haters alike are concerned about the gacha aspect of the game and compare it to gambling.
“I believe that loot box and gacha games are gambling because you aren’t guaranteed anything unless you spend a lot of money,” Armena said.
Gambling is defined as wagering something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome. For example, Genshin Impact offers a high-tier character within ninety pulls, but ninety pulls is worth over $100. The worst part is that you aren’t guaranteed the thing you want, and you have to win a 50 percent chance to get the featured character. If you don’t, you’ll have to pull more. Some people spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars in hopes of getting the characters and items they want.
While some people may be able to control how much money they spend, these gambling aspects are generally very predatory. Many of these games are targeted towards minors. In fact, Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite, had lawsuits filed against them for their loot box system being easily accessible to minors. Epic Games now has to show what items are in the loot box before the person purchases them.
Even with this, other games with gambling systems targeted towards minors are still thriving and receiving billions of dollars. When kids see a dollar sign in a game they like, the first thing they think of is to get their parents credit card. This can make the gambling problem even worse, since it is easy to spend someone else’s money when you don’t understand the value of it yet.
Gambling being introduced to children so young is a damaging aspect of games, be careful where you’re spending yours or a loved ones money.