Apple released significantly revised guidelines for its App Store and now included among all the provisions is a requirement for iOS games to disclose the odds of loot boxes.
The inclusion of loot boxes in video games has recently been a major issue in the industry. Loot boxes are more widely accepted in mobile games, but it appears that Apple will start keeping a close eye on the in-app purchases.
iOS Games Required To Disclose Loot Box Chances
"Apps offering 'loot boxes' or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase," said one bullet point in Apple's new App Store guidelines.
Loot boxes are in-app purchases that give players different items that usually vary in rarity. In most cases, players can buy loot boxes in iOS games not just through in-game currency but also with real money.
For example, in Blizzard's digital trading card game Hearthstone, players can buy card packs that contain five random cards. Each pack guarantees at least one rare card, with the chance to get epic and legendary cards. Other games that use similar loot box systems include Clash Royale, The Simpsons Tapped Out, and South Park: Phone Destroyer.
With Apple's new ruling, these iOS games will soon be updated to reveal the chances for players to get certain items in loot boxes. In Hearthstone's case, players will soon know their odds in finding a legendary card inside a digital card pack.
The provision mirrors Chinese regulations passed earlier this year that required games to disclose the odds for loot boxes. Blizzard complied with the law, revealing the drop rates for Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm.
Controversy Over Loot Boxes And Microtransactions
Last month, the Belgian Gaming Commission declared that loot boxes are gambling, adding that the in-app purchases are dangerous to a child's mental health. The Entertainment Software Rating Board does not share the sentiment, but Belgium's decision may have triggered other countries to at least take a look at loot boxes in video games.
Loot boxes are a form of microtransactions, which try to make players spend more money on games that they already purchased full price for. Electronic Arts suffered major backlash with the steeply priced microtransactions of Star Wars: Battlefront II, pushing the publisher to temporarily deactivate them upon the game's launch.
Some studios have taken note of players' disdain for microtransactions, with one of them being Obsidian Entertainment. The developer behind Tyranny, the Pillars of Eternity series, and Fallout: New Vegas said that its next RPG will have no microtransactions.