At a Federal Trade Commission public panel regarding micro transactions in video games, the Entertainment Software Association that the three largest console platform holders, those being Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo, have voluntarily agreed to a policy change regarding loot boxes. While ESA’s Michael Warnecke broadly defended the concept of loot boxes, he also stated that any new games or game updates from now on would need to disclose the rarity of the various drops included in their loot boxes.
“Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to the ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platform,” Warnecke said. “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 available on their platforms.”
Warnecke also stated that many publishers and members of the ESA have committed to a similar concept at the publisher level of game development. This voluntary disclosure of drop rates for loot boxes will put console games on the same playing field as mobile disclosure requirements. According to the ESA, some of the publishers that have agreed to this voluntary change include Bethesda, Bandai Namco, Electronic Arts, Bungie, Sony, Take-Two Interactive, Microsoft, Activision Blizzard, Nintendo, Wizards of the Coast and Warner Bros. The disclosures are rumored to be coming by the end of 2020, with other members of the ESA taking the voluntary change into consideration.
“This approach would also be compatible with the Apple and Google approach on the mobile platform. We believe that, taken together, this provides a comprehensive approach to ensuring that consumers get the information they need so they can make informed purchasing decisions when it comes to paid loot boxes.”
What does this mean for loot boxes in the long haul? Might it make them more acceptable and palatable to your average gamer? After all, the policy doesn’t actually change anything in regards to your likelihood of getting something good out of a loot box: it just tells you how unlikely you actually are in relation to how much money you spend.
Still, it will probably curve the impulsiveness of many gamers in buying loot boxes if they are told straight up what their chances of getting good rewards are. Whether or not this will have so severe of an effect on loot box sales that game companies have to take new money making measures can only be speculated at, but it seems unlikely. After all, people love to gamble, and people that love games enjoy it just as much, if not more so than your average person.