Credit: RODNAE Productions via Pexels
You’re in the middle of playing a video game when you get the opportunity to purchase a loot box. The contents of this loot box are a mystery. It could be a costume that you don’t have, some special equipment that you’re looking for, a rare item that could boost your character’s defenses or a couple of health potions.
Your curiosity is piqued, and you decide to buy the loot box. You open it up, look through your loot and realize you didn’t get what you’re hoping for. You decide that you’ll just purchase another loot box and try your luck again. You’re sure you’ll get what you’re looking for this time around.
This is the insidious nature of loot boxes.
What Is a Loot Box?
A loot box is a type of microtransaction that video games offer players. It typically involves items, costumes and weapons that can either improve the gaming experience or help customize the look of the player character. For instance, you could get a unique armor design that you can’t access through regular gameplay.
What makes loot boxes different from other microtransactions is that players don’t know what they’re getting when they make a purchase. The contents of the box are secret. You have to purchase the box to find out exactly what they are.
This is one of the many ways that video game companies trick you into spending money long after you’ve purchased their games.
What’s the Problem with Loot Boxes?
When you’re gaming, it’s easy to underestimate the costs of microtransactions in the moment. You’re not sitting on your couch with a calculator, checking to see what all of these little purchases add up to — you’re lost in the experience!
This can be a huge problem. What if you spend more than you can afford to while playing? What if you ruin your budget for the rest of the month? What if you don’t have enough savings to deal with an emergency expense that crops up? You could put yourself in a financially vulnerable position.
If you make this terrible mistake and need to handle an emergency expense, you still have some options. As long as your credit card balance isn’t too high, you could use it to cover the emergency expense immediately and then slowly pay down the balance later on.
Or you could try to apply for a personal loan online. Personal loans are effective solutions for handling emergency expenses when you don’t have enough savings available.
You should only use personal loans for help if you’re struggling with surprise expenses — they’re not meant for everyday expenses like groceries.
The other problem with loot boxes is that they’re similar to gambling. Players shell out money for the possibility of winning a prize, just like pulling a slot machine or playing roulette. This round of gambling just takes place on your living-room couch instead of a casino.
These types of microtransactions are considered so addictive that many politicians have tried to regulate the video game industry to minimize the harm that loot boxes could pose.
So far, companies continue to put loot boxes in their games, so players have to bear the responsibility to watch what they play and be extra conscious of how much they spend. So as a gamer, you need to be careful about this feature in your games to make sure that you don’t develop compulsive gambling habits and damage your bank account.
As you can see, loot boxes may look like innocent fun, but they can be dangerous to your finances and your mental health.