Leon Y. Xiao
Leon Y. Xiao is a Lord Denning Scholar at The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn studying to become a barrister at The City Law School, City, University of London. Leon is a first class LLB graduate from Durham Law School, Durham University. Leon was employed as an in-house legal counsel intern by Cheetah Mobile (NYSE:CMCM) from July to August 2019 and advised on video game-related legal issues. Leon researches the regulation of randomised monetisation methods (loot boxes) in video games and ethical game design which improve consumer protection using legal and ludology (game studies) perspectives.
Weak links between loot boxes and gambling in China, and player opinions on probability disclosures
Aims: Paid loot boxes are quasi-gambling virtual products in videogames that contain randomised rewards of varying value. Regulators around the world are considering how best to regulate these potentially harmful mechanics that children have ready access to. Fifteen previous studies using Western samples have identified a positive correlation between loot box purchasing and problem gambling. However, it is not known whether the same correlation can be replicated when non-WEIRD samples are used. Additionally, China is the only country to legally require loot box probability disclosures as a consumer protection measure. The effectiveness of this measure, which is being considered for adoption by other countries, is not known.
Methods: A preregistered survey of Chinese videogamers was circulated online (N=879).Results: The survey largely failed to replicate the correlation, possibly due to low levels of gambling participation (n=87). Statistically significant but weak positive correlations between loot box expenditure and past-year gambling participation, and between loot box expenditure and impulsiveness, were found. Most loot box purchasers (84.6%) reported seeing disclosures, but only 19.3% of loot box purchasers reported consequently spending less money.
Conclusions: Future research into loot box purchasing and gambling correlations should consider improved methodology, cultural contexts and gambling product variations. The relatively traditional gambling products allowed in China, e.g., lotteries, may be less appealing to videogamers than more gamified products available in other jurisdictions, such as electronic gambling machines. Some practical implications of conducting gambling-related research in China, which is presently heavily underdeveloped, are discussed.