Three of the biggest gaming companies in the world are going to require games to disclose the odds of receiving rare items when buying loot boxes. The three major console manufacturers have committed to making it compulsory for all game publishers on their respective platforms to reveal the odds of receiving particular items in all future titles.
Entertainment Software Association made the announcement on Wednesday at a loot box workshop at the Federal Trade Commission. Along with the Big Three, a number of video game publishers already show drop rates, and others have agreed to comply by the end of 2020.
Publishers Commit To Loot Boxes Disclosure
Those companies include Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Bungie, EA, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., and Wizards of the Coast according to the ESA. Meanwhile, other publishers are also considering the new policy, as games must incorporate it to be published on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. Other platforms, including the PC, are not part of this new commitment, however.
"The video game industry relies on creating and sustaining relationships with our players based on fun, but just as importantly on trust," the ESA said. "One of the hallmarks of our industry is that we don't just create entertainment value for our players, we listen to them."
It's not clear when ESA plans to rigidly impose the new requirement, saying that it's "still being worked out." Companies hope to roll it out by 2020.
What The Big Three Have To Say
Microsoft says it believes in transparency with customers and providing them information for making purchase decisions, as The Verge reports. Sony, meanwhile, confirmed the commitment, saying it supports industry efforts to disclose the probability of obtaining randomized virtual items for all games it produces and publishes. Nintendo, too, says it would be increasing transparency in loot box purchasing, adding that it will require disclosure of drop rates in Switch games.
For the uninitiated, loot boxes are purchasable in-game elements that give players randomized items. Some countries consider loot boxes as a form of gambling or lottery and thus have banned games that incorporate them. Loot boxes are one of the most notorious video game elements in recent memory, and one that's particularly received increased government scrutiny after Star Wars: Battlefront II made headlines in 2017.
At present, games include labels indicating whether they contain microtransactions, and video game consoles employ parental controls that limit how much a user can spend in-game. But clearly, the industry wants to take it further than that. Make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.