Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo to Require Games to Disclose Loot Box Odds to Players
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
The Electronic Software Association revealed during a workshop on loot boxes hosted by the United States Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have all agreed to require games that use loot box mechanics to disclose the probabilities of obtaining randomized items and their relative rarities in the game to players.
The policy will apply to new games and to existing games that will add loot box mechanics. The ESA also said that many video game publishers who are ESA members will also implement the policy. The companies will apply the new policy to games by no later than the end of 2020.
FTC chairman Joseph Simmons said last December that he will launch an investigation into video game loot boxes.
New Hampshire senator Maggie Hassan previously sent a letter to the ESRB asking the group to review the ratings process for games with loot boxes, or gacha (a term derived from gachapon capsule toys). The organization added a label for in-game purchases but not specifically for loot boxes, which offer random rewards, sometimes in exchange for real money.
Several other countries have moved to regulate the gaming mechanic. The Belgian Gaming Commission declared in April 2018 that the loot box mechanic violates the country's gambling laws. As a result, Square Enix is ending service for three of its smartphone games in Belgium, and the Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle game will no longer offer certain items for purchase in Belgium. The Netherlands has also banned loot boxes.
Electronic Arts has recently been questioned in a House of Commons investigative committee in the United Kingdom's Parliament regarding the company's implementation of loot box mechanics in its Star Wars: Battlefront II game.