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Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

The literature studying video game loot boxes is young but growing quickly. Given the rapid proliferation of loot box research and its developing influence in public policy, a stocktaking and critical reflection is in order. This paper reviews the emerging literature on loot boxes and problematic behaviors such as problem gambling and problem gaming and describes some challenges facing this research. The main problems involve (1) the availability of relevant and useful data, choice of research subjects, and difficulties of reliable and representative sampling; (2) the use of research tools and methods that fail to take account of the unique characteristics of loot boxes; and (3) neglect of the underlying economic significance of loot box engagement, a necessity for considering the true social impact and the policy implications of loot boxes. Together, these challenges show clearly that loot box research has a long way to go before it can be relied on for practical purposes. The paper concludes by outlining a positive research program with a view to informing policy.

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