Take-Two president on loot boxes: 'We don't view [them] as gambling'

Take-Two Interactive president Karl Slatoff has weighed in on the controversy over loot boxes and gambling, declaring that the company shares the position of the Entertainment Software Association: "We don't view that thing as gambling." 

Interestingly, Slatoff's defense of the not-gambling position sounds less like it's rooted in the legal definition of the term than in the belief that people won't care as long as you don't hose them too badly. "In terms of the consumer—the noise you hear in the market right now—it's all about content and over-delivering on content," he said at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference (via Gamespot).   

"It's about making making sure you're focused on engagement, and I think that has been our strategy; that has been our focus. And as long you keep your eye on that ball, you're going to be okay. The consumer's going to be really happy with what they get."   

Despite the consumer backlash against loot boxes in games and rumblings from legislators that something should be done, Take-Two's stance isn't at all surprising. Not just because it's falling in line with the ESA, but because it has big post-release monetization plans of its own: Chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick recently said that the company wants to include "recurrent consumer spending opportunities" in all its games in the future.  

"You can't force the consumer to do anything," Slatoff said. "You try your best to create the best experience you possibly you can to drive engagement, and driving engagement creates value in franchises. That's how it's always been and how it always will be." 

Microtransactions aren't the same as loot boxes, and it's likely more the former than the latter that Zelnick was referring to. But as we noted in our recent look at why legislation could be bad, government regulation may not be the ideal solution—the distinction being that our argument wasn't a defense of loot boxes.