Loot boxes have been a big talking point for a while now, while some call it gambling, others like EA call them “surprise mechanics“. Let’s face it, loot boxes with random, rare rewards that you need to pay for is just another way to extract money from gamers, but it is every gamer’s choice if they want to open that wallet and get more paid loot boxes. That choice will become a bit easier, as the three big console makers, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, have agreed that by the end of 2020, developers and publishers must disclose odds of paid loot boxes in their games.
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The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had an Inside the Game talk, where the Chief Counsel of Tech Policy for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), Michael Warnecke, revealed that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have agreed that they will require the disclosure of odds from loot boxes for new games and even updates that introduce loot boxes to existing games.
The ESA then released a formal Press Release, explaining things in more detail:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#33fffc” class=”” size=”22″]Several video game industry leaders are announcing new initiatives to help consumers make informed choices about their purchases, including loot boxes. The major console makers – Sony Interactive Entertainment, operator of the PlayStation platform, Microsoft, operator of Xbox and Windows, and Nintendo, operator of the Nintendo Switch gaming platform – are committing to new platform policies that will require paid loot boxes in games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items. These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features. The precise timing of this disclosure requirement is still being worked out, but the console makers are targeting 2020 for the implementation of the policy.[/perfectpullquote]
This will, of course, not remove loot boxes from games, but it will give gamers a better chance of making an informed decision. Opening loot boxes can, in some cases, be fun (see our Immortal Treasure III opening) and I personally love the randomness of it all. Then again, I am old enough to gamble and I am not addicted to that feeling you get when you finally get that rare item.
The ESA continues to explain which major publishers have agreed to disclose the odds of paid loot boxes and yes, the list does include EA and Activision.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#33ff68″ class=”” size=”22″]In addition, several of ESA’s publisher members already disclose the relative rarity or probability of obtaining in-game virtual items from purchased loot boxes, and other major publishers have agreed to do so no later than the end of 2020. Together, these publishers include Activision Blizzard, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast. Many other ESA members are considering a disclosure. The disclosure will apply to all new games and updates to games that add such in-game purchases and will be presented in a manner that is understandable and easily accessed.[/perfectpullquote]
This is no doubt a great step in the right direction but the end of 2020 is still a long way off. Hopefully, even more publishers will jump on board with this initiative.
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What do you think about the fact that the odds of paid loot boxes will start to be disclosed by big-name publishers? Let us know in the comment section below.