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David Zendle

David Zendle is a video game researcher and a leading expert in the effects of loot boxes

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Loot Box Publications

Loot boxes are items in video games that can be bought with real-world money, but contain randomised contents.

Similarities between loot boxes and gambling have led to concern amongst regulators and policymakers that loot boxes might be linked to problem gambling. David Zendle is the lead author of several key papers on this topic.

 

Video game loot boxes are linked to problem gambling: Results of a large-scale survey

PLoS ONE, Nov 18

This large-scale survey of gamers (n = 7,422) found evidence for an important link between the amount that gamers spent on loot boxes and the severity of their problem gambling: The more money that gamers spent on loot boxes, the more severe their problem gambling was.

This research suggests that loot boxes either literally cause problem gambling, or are letting games companies make enormous profits from their most vulnerable customers.


Paper available here.

Loot boxes are again linked to problem gambling:

Results of a replication study

PLoS ONE, In Press

A second large-scale study of 1,172 gamers again found a similar link between the amount of money that gamers spent on loot boxes and the severity of their problem gambling.

This research again suggests that loot boxes are a potentially harmful feature of video games.

Paper available here

Adolescents and loot boxes:

Links with problem gambling

and motivations for purchasing

Preprint, Under Submission

A large-scale study of 1155 adolescents investigated whether there was a relationship between problem gambling and loot box spending in this particularly vulnerable group.


This study was pre-registered, meaning that we created a public and frozen version of our hypotheses prior to running the experiment itself.

Not only was the relationship again present, but it appeared to be approximately twice as strong amongst adolescents as it was in adults.

Full paper available here

Paying for loot boxes is linked to problem gambling, regardless of specific features like cash-out and pay-to-win: A preregistered investigation

Preprint, Under Submission

A large-scale, preregistered, study of 1200 gamers was conducted to investigate whether certain types of loot boxes were more strongly linked to problem gambling than others.

Our results indicate that some loot box features may weakly strengthen the relationship between loot box spending and problem gambling. However, our main conclusion is that regardless of the presence or absence of specific features of loot boxes, if they are being sold to players for real-world world money, then their purchase is linked to problem gambling.

Full paper available here

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