Loot boxes have been a hot topic over the last few years. We have seen tons of debates regarding the ethics of implementing them in games with younger audiences as well as including disclaimers to warn parents about them. In fact, just yesterday, Rocket League announced the discontinuation of its loot boxes.
After so much controversy and conversation about loot boxes, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony are now all teaming up to require an odds disclosure for games on their platforms.
Always tell me the odds
Entertainment Software Association (ESA) chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke talked about this upcoming change earlier this morning at a workshop surrounding the issues of loot boxes. Warnecke discussed previous attempts to make the public more aware of which games included loot boxes, such as having an “in-game purchases” label on the cover. Warnecke continued with the odds disclosure announcement:
That said, we are doing more. I’m pleased to announce this morning that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platform. Specifically, this would apply to new games and game updates that add loot box features. And it would require the disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomized virtual items in games that are available on their platforms.
According to Warnecke, many other “leading video game publishers” in the ESA will follow suit at the publisher level. Their goal is “to provide consumers this information and give them enhanced information to make purchase decisions.” These initiatives are planned to roll out sometime in 2020.
Does this address the concerns surrounding loot boxes?
This is a huge win for those that find loot boxes unethical. It certainly won’t get rid of some of the deeper issues surrounding the practice, of course. Hopefully, though, it will make parents more aware that their child may have to spend hundreds of dollars just to have the chance to win a single in-game item.
On the other hand, it’s debatable how often parents will read these warnings. After all, many children still end up playing the newest Grand Theft Auto games despite content warnings on the cover. Whether this actually makes an impact or not, at least the industry is making an effort to address consumers’ concerns.
What do you guys think of this new requirement? Do you think this will help fix some of the concerns surrounding loot boxes? Let us know in the comments below!