The Entertainment Software Association has announced that it's working with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo on new policies, openly disclosing the odds on loot box mechanics in video games that feature them. This is similar to the practices followed by iOS and Google Play for its mobile titles.
The news was announced earlier today at the Federal Trade Commission's Inside the Game workshop during a segment focused on the controversial gaming mechanic. "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." stated The ESA's chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke.
This announcement was then followed by a new posting on The ESA website, stating that the voluntary initiatives "will require paid loot boxes in games... to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items." The new information will be posted on future video game releases, or added to titles that receive loot box mechanics post-release. While the major console platform-holders are already on-board with the new practices, many publishers are expected to follow suit by the end of 2020, including Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. and Take-Two, among others.
This initiative is clearly a step by the industry toward making loot boxes -- currently in the firing line -- more of a legitimized mechanic. But some would argue that it may do little to quell some of the more predatory elements given that it is, ostensibly, gambling. Information is always important, and consumers should have access to the hard facts and numbers about products they commit their time and money to.
But will knowing the odds prove a positive step toward the bigger problem of loot boxes when it comes to addictive personalities, appealing to children, or real money microtransactions? Plenty of lotteries provide the hugely unlikely odds of winning for their respective players but are still paid-into by armies of people weekly. While offering more accurate information is certainly better than doing nothing at all, I'm personally unsure as to how much it will calm the current disdain toward loot box mechanics, which remains one of the modern gaming industry's most hot-button topics.
Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft to require loot box odds disclosure [Gamesindustry.biz]
Video game industry commitments to further inform consumer purchases [ESA]