A new report finds games with age ratings of just 3 containing in-app purchase of up to £300.
- New report finds loot boxes in mobile games with age ratings as young as three
- Loot box win rates for featured items as low as 0.01%
- 97% of player of free mobile games have spent real life money
- Full ‘Fee 2 Play’ report available online
With loot boxes the centre of debate in the UK, a new report from comparemymobile.com with UK debt charity StepChange has revealed win rates as low as 0.01% on loot boxes across popular mobile games.
With more than three quarters (81%) of children with smartphones having at least one game installed on them, the mobile comparison service conducted a study of 45 top grossing and most popular ‘free’ mobile games with minimum PEGI age ratings of 16 years old and under.
The study found gambling style loot boxes on games with PEGI age ratings of a young as three, with odds as low as 0.01% to win the featured item. The average cost to open a loot box across all games was £1.99.
That means despite paying £1.99 to open a loot box, players have no realistic chance of winning the featured, advertised item on games fronted by family franchises such as Loony Tunes, Star Wars, Marvel and WWE.
Loot box pull rates on popular mobile games
|Game||Pull Rate for Featured Loot Box Item||PEGI Age Rating||Most Expensive In-App Purchase|
|Loony Tunes World of Mayhem||>0.01%||3||£299.99|
|Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes||0.01%||12||£299.99|
|Marvel Strike Force||0.07%||12||£149.99|
|RAID: Shadow Legends||0.50%||12||£100|
|Marvel Contest of Champions||1%||12||£99.99|
|Transformers Forged to Fight||0.52%||7||£99|
|Star Trek Fleet Commander||5%||7||£94.99|
|Marvel Puzzle Quest||7% (1:14)||7||£90.99|
|Dragon Ball Z: Dokken Battle||5%||12||£48.99|
Source: Fee 2 Play Report – 2020
What are Loot boxes?
Loot boxes are a controversial game mechanic designed to restrict players ability to progress or unlock items.
The way in which this works is that when a player opens a ‘loot box’ they are granted a chance to acquire one of several different items (sometimes out of a choice of hundreds), with the more sought after or better ‘prizes’ often having significantly lower odds of being ‘pulled’. In a survey of players, nearly 74%
This means players have no control on how they unlock new characters, items or in-game cash – instead they are at the mercy of what the game randomly awards them, much like a slot machine. This means if they need a specific item or character, often their only option is to keep putting money into the game in the hope they get lucky.
As a result, nearly all (78%) of the players in our study said the games require players to pay money to progress or complete it, despite being marketed as a free game., with 74% saying they felt the games felt like gambling.
When free to play becomes play to win
As part of the study comparemymobile.com polled Reddit users in communities for some of the most popular games on the list. The study found;
- Nearly all players (97%) of free to play games had made in game purchase with real money, with 63% saying they felt the game constantly pushed them to spend.
- More than a quarter (27%) have spent more than £800 on their free to play game.
- On average (81%), people play free to play games for more than 10 hours per week.
- More than half (63%) said they felt their game was addictive, with 74% saying the game contained loot boxes which felt like gambling.
- Half (53%) said they felt these games appealed to people under 18 years of age.
- Nearly three quarters (57%) said they felt the games were impossible to progress in without spending real life money.
Loot boxes with astronomically low odds
According to an companion survey of 2,000 parents conducted by comparemymobile.com more than three quarters (81%) said their children have games on their devices.
More than half (62%) parents surveyed said they had been asked to spend real money on a free game by their child or had done so as a birthday or Christmas present (average of £9). However, one in 10 (10%) said that they child had made an in-game purchase without their knowledge.
Rob Baillie from comparemymobile.com, the firm behind the study said; “There’s a reason why mobile games are such big business and our research raises some concerns around these games which are often aimed at children.
“From speaking with players we have found that while many of the games feel free in the initial period, as players sink more time into the game it becomes significantly harder to progress, ultimately leading to them spending significant amount of money.
“Aside from the sheer volume of money players were spending, what was most concerning was the use of loot box mechanics in games, often with horrendous odds as low as 0.01%.
“Stories of players spending more than they could afford or quitting the game only to come back to it shows there are serious problems that need to be addressed.
“With some of these games aimed at children as young as three year’s old, there is a real danger of some of these games turning children’s devices into brightly coloured slot machines, normalising gambling habits.”
Peter Thutton, head of policy at debt charity StepChange said;
“The intense debt problems gambling can cause makes us worry about the harm loot boxes could cause.
“Bringing gambling-like features into gaming creates a risk of serious financial harm, particularly to those vulnerable to addictive technologies.
“Gaming should be fun and never a gateway to racking up considerable debt. So we strongly support the recommendations of the DCMS Select Committee for better protections and action by Government to bring loot boxes under gambling-style regulation.”
The full report containing more information, infographics and case studies is available to download on the comparemymobile.com website.
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