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What’s in the box? Exploring UK players’ experiences of loot boxes in games; the conceptualisation and parallels with gambling

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journal contribution
submitted on 2024-04-16, 12:56 and posted on 2024-04-16, 12:58 authored by Sarah E. Hodge, Max Vykoukal, John McAlaney, Reece D. Bush-Evans, Ruijie Wang, Raian Ali

Loot boxes are a popular mechanic within many video games, but it remains unclear if some forms of loot boxes can be seen of as gambling. However, the perspectives of players are often neglected, such as whether they see them as ‘fair’ game elements and how closely they feel this aligns with gambling. In this paper, we synthesise a conceptualisation for loot boxes through players’ actual experience and explore if there are any parallels with gambling. Twenty-one participants who played video games took part in the research through either an interview or online survey. Thematic analysis suggested that six themes were core to exploring loot boxes: Random Chance Effects, Attitudes Towards Content, Implementation, Parallels with Gambling, Game Design, and The Player. The results suggested both indirect and direct parallels with gambling from the players experiences. Implications of game design and classifying loot boxes as gambling are discussed in relation to game design and risk factors of gambling and purchasing behaviour.

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Published in: PLOS ONE
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  • English


Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Publication Year

  • 2022

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Science and Engineering - HBKU

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