Loot boxes: gambling in disguise? : A qualitative study on the motivations behind purchasing loot boxes
Abstract: Background: In the last two decades, the rapid technological advancement in digital solutions had paved way for a transition of traditional gambling activities to internet-based platforms. Online casinos with video-game-like features have become a common platform for gambling. Consequently, gambling-like features is increasingly being adopted by mobile- and computer games. The latest example of these features called loot boxes, are getting a lot of attention from gamers and regulators alike. Problem: Game publishers are reporting hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue from loot boxes and governmental agencies are struggling with determining whether to classify loot boxes as a form of gambling, therefore regulating it. The main reason for this conflict is the lack of empirical studies in the subject. Purpose: This thesis aims to shed light upon the phenomenon. More specifically, it will do so from the gamers’ perspectives and reveal the underlying motivations for loot boxes activities, as well as their views on loot boxes. Method: A qualitative approach with semi-structured interviews with twelve participants has been conducted. These findings have later been compared to existing literature regarding gambling. Results: The findings showed that there are distinct similarities between gambling and loot boxing. In terms of motivations, the same nature is applied for socialization and amusement. Two new motivations were discovered, value-based motive and collecting purpose which are video-game specific. Additional components that influenced both gambling and loot boxing were found to be impulsivity and distorted beliefs. Other than that, the participants see loot boxes as a form of gambling based on the uncanny likeness of the mechanism and the emotional effects. Despite having a negative view on loot boxes, they do not wish the feature to be removed.
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