Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft To Require Loot Box Odds Disclosure
The Entertainment Software Association has said that Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are working on new policies to require loot box odds disclosure on their systems. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will soon require loot box odds to be disclosed for games on their platforms.
The news comes way of the ESA’s chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke, who shared the announcement this morning at the Federal Trade Commission’s Inside the Game workshop.
“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,” said Warnecke. “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.”
“As well, many of the leading video game publishers of the Entertainment Software Association have decided that they are going to implement a similar approach at the publisher level to provide consumers this information and give them enhanced information to make purchase decisions.”
At the moment of publishing, it’s unclear what other publishers are already on board, but if Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are enforcing it on a console level, then any publisher who puts their games on these systems will need to divulge the odds.
Of course, this news comes on the back of increased public pressure to make adjustments to loot boxes, and comes on the back of multiple governments declaring loot boxes as gambling and illegal. In other words, government intervention is likely the big driving force of this widespread policy change.
Loot boxes have come under intense scrutiny from trade and mainstream press in the past year, after children ran up thousands of dollars of debt on parents’ credit cards buying in-game purchases such as FIFA Ultimate Team card packs. The pressure has caused some governments, including Belgium Officially Declares Loot Boxes Gambling And Illegal within the country.
The ESA’s previous attempts to curb what is seen by many in the industry as a predatory practice has been to require games that feature loot boxes and in-game purchases to have labels applied to their retail packaging. Other efforts have included parental controls that limit spending on in-game purchases, available on storefronts such as EA’s Origin launcher and the Epic Games Store.
Over the past year, FTC Hosting Public Workshop On Loot Boxes This Year, especially if they target children. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) wrote to the FTC last fall asking for the agency to investigate the practice and whether new consumer protection regulations need to be crafted in order to protect children (and their parents) who play these games.
More recently Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) US Senator Introduces Bill To Ban Loot Boxes And Pay To Win Mechanics in May that would ban the sale of loot boxes to minors under the age of 18 and make it unlawful for minor-oriented games to include pay-to-win micro-transactions and mechanics.
Apple mandated loot box odds disclosure for iOS games in 2017. Google followed suit with Google Play requirements earlier this year.