An open letter to EA DICE from a self-confessed gambling addict warns fellow gamers of the dangers of loot boxes and also pleads with them to consider the consequences of unregulated microtransactions.
On the Star Wars Battlefront II subreddit, user Kensgold wrote about how he took on two jobs to feed his addiction to such games and nearly dropped out of high school. He claims to have spent over $13,000 on microtransactions in the last three years.
It all started with a free-to-play city building game where he was spending hundreds of dollars just to keep pace with his friends. Eventually it spilled over into other games and he spent as much as $1,696 on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Now Kensgold says that he can't buy games that feature loot boxes or microtransactions. He stresses that he has no problems with progression. "A grind won't keep me away," he writes. "My problem stems from a deeper issue, my addiction to gambling."
"This addiction is a personal failing of mine and the reason I can't in good conscience buy games that offer a loot crate, at all. This is a coping strategy that I use to keep away from the temptation of opening these crates."
Attempting to make sense of the underlying psychology of his addiction, Kensgold said he has a very controlled type-A personality, and suspects "this actually lowers my resistance to gambling. Because I can't control the outcome it appeals to me in a subtle way."
Kensgold credited the love and support of his mother for his ability to come out the other end alright. "She saw my problem and when I realized I needed help she got me a therapist. She supported me and never once gave up on me."
He finished his letter with a warning to others, stressing how fortunate he had been to come out the other side. "I was lucky. Others like me won't be. They will fail out of school. They will use their parents' credit cards, causing massive interest and CC debit," he said. "They won't have a mother/accountant to teach how to manage their money if they recover."
Addressing game developers, Kensgold wrote, "[Please] take a moment to reflect on my story. You are building a game from The Star Wars universe. There will be kids playing. They will learn to love the rush of getting a good card out of a loot box. So please again take a moment to reflect. There are no laws in place to protect the youth of our nation and others like it.
"I was one of the many who was hurt because of that. Help me prevent it from happening to the next generation, give them the chance I never had. Say no to unregulated microtransactions. If you don't have the authority please find someone who does. Tell them about people like me and ask them for their help."
You can read the complete letter from Kensgold here.