Despite some high-profile AAA games removing their loot boxes this year, the mechanic itself only seems to be growing in popularity. Juniper Research today released findings from a new report that loot boxes and skins gambling will generate $50 billion in worldwide consumer spending by 2022, up from under $30 billion this year.
In announcing its findings, Juniper also took the unusual step of calling for a crackdown on skins gambling, saying, "Juniper strongly recommends regulation for skin trading and gambling, in an attempt to both prevent youth participation and remove malicious actors who run sites which steal skins or short-change users." It noted a study by the Gambling Commission last year that found 11% of 11-16-year-olds in the UK (about 500,000 children) had engaged in skins betting.
Juniper pointed to Valve's Steam storefront as a large facilitator of skins gambling. The report acknowledged that Valve has cracked down on third-party websites that used its titles to bet on casino-style games, but the Steam Community Market itself has allowed skins gambling to flourish by creating a virtual marketplace where users can convert in-game items to cash by selling them to other users, with Steam taking a 5% cut of all transactions.
"The market for skins is huge, with over 6 billion items listed at once," Juniper said, noting that it believes Steam accounts for the vast majority of skin trading. "Steam makes money from these transactions, hence the reluctance to shut the practice down."