Platform-holders to enforce disclosure of loot box odds

Loot Boxes

US games industry body the Entertainment Software Association has revealed that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have agreed to force games to disclose the odds of acquiring rare items in loot boxes in the future.

In a statement on its website, the organisation said: “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.”

The ESA added that a number of major publishers have already agreed to disclose the odds pertaining to loot boxes in any of their games, a move which will come into effect before the end of 2020: “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.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Psyonix will remove paid, randomised loot boxes from Rocket League later this year. In a statement on the game’s website, Psyonix (which was bought by Epic Games in May 2019) said: “Here at Psyonix, and Epic Games as a whole, we are dedicated to creating the best possible experience for our players all over the world. In pursuit of that goal, later this year we will remove all paid, randomized Crates from Rocket League, replacing them with a system that shows the exact items you’re buying in advance. This is similar to changes implemented earlier this year by the Fortnite Save the World team. Rocket Pass Premium, DLC Cars, and Esports Shop items will continue to be offered for direct purchase alongside our new system.”

The moves to curb the more egregious excesses of loot boxes, which have attracted attention and some legislation from governments, concerned they represent a form of gambling aimed at children, should take some heat off what has become a contentious issue for the games industry. We’ll bring you more news about the nuts and bolts of how the new loot box policy will be implemented as it emerges.