The Entertainment Software Association has announced that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are working on new policies which will require games that include loot boxes to disclose the odds of obtaining specific types of loot.
The statement was made at the Federal Trade Commission’s Inside the Game workshop, as reported by gamesindustry.biz. Michael Warnecke, Chief counsel of tech policy, made the comments while talking about the industry’s attempts to address lootbox concerns.
He began by outlining previous solutions which include adding in-game purchase labels to retail titles and deploying platform-level spending controls on consoles, as well as on the EA Origin store.
Warnecke then went on to make the following annoucement. “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. 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.”
He also stated that many leading video game publishers have also decided to implement a similar approach, in order to keep customers better informed. The disclosures will enable gamers to see the odds of obtaining specific types of loot from the crates, which are often seen as gambling.
The ESA has said that platform owners are targeting 2020 as a release date for implementing the disclosures. They also released a list of other companies that have pledged to disclose loot box odds by the end of 2020. These 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.
So far some notable ESA publishers are decidedly silent on the subject, including Disney Interactive Studios, Epic Games, Gearbox Publishing, Konami, Riot Games, Square Enix and THQ Nordic.
The ESA are following in the footsteps of Apple, who mandated lootbox odds disclosure for iOS games back in 2017, and Google, who followed suit earlier this year.
While these updates won’t ban loot boxes, they should allow customers to make more informed choices based on their odds of securing the type of items they want.