Controversial YouTube personality Jake Paul is again the subject of public scrutiny after launching a campaign to shill real-life loot boxes from a Polish website, “Mystery Brand,” to his 17 million followers, the majority of which are underage teens and tweens.
Mystery Brand’s system mimics that of the loot boxes found within popular video games, where gamers pay some form of microtransaction to earn an in-game reward. Mystery Brand’s boxes cost anywhere from $2.49 to north of $200,000 and allegedly contain everything from keychains to high-end cars.
In the paid advertisement, Paul galavants around his mansion with quick cuts, loud noises and a style reminiscent of Jim Cramer on Mad Money. The goal of this behavior is to build excitement among his fans under the guise of a tutorial video. Despite his excitement, Paul at one point spends more than $2,000 total on two boxes that only yielded two Apple Watches worth less than $500 a piece.
Obviously, Paul was playing with the house’s money, as fellow YouTubers have ratted out the company for offering them $100,000 to promote the website.
For the purposes of this article, and to see what the kids were in for, I decided to give Mystery Brand’s loot boxes a try. As an avid gamer, I chose to go with the $6.99 Gaming Box named “Sissy Boy”. After funding my account with Bitcoin (BTC), I purchased and opened the box, receiving a Red TYLOO SteelSeries Gaming Mouse Pad.
From there, I had the option to have the mouse pad delivered, or resell it for the “fair market value” of $2.60. I ultimately decided to resell it and let the remaining money ride, which landed me with nothing other than a gold fidget spinner, a Jake Paul fanbase staple.
While the Mystery Brand system boasts that is supported by a provably fair algorithm that allows users to track seed numbers via a third party tracker, it’s clear that the loot boxes are designed to draw in those looking to gamble their money to earn a high-end product. Additionally, the massive number of items priced under $1 would make it cost-prohibitive for the company to actually ship every item users are winning.
Certainly, not an ideal platform for children. And, thankfully, Paul heard everyone’s criticism and responded to the situation.
just a reminder..
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) January 3, 2019
The risk of loot box gambling shouldn’t be underestimated, as a recent public study of over 7,400 gamers found “important links between loot box spending and problem gambling.” Published by the Australian Environment and Communications Reference Committee, the survey was written in response to a scholarly journal published in Nature Human Behaviour, titled, “Video game loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling.”