The gods of the consoles, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, have together announced a new plan that will see loot boxes banned from console games -unless the publisher discloses drop rate odds.
The news was announced by the ESA (Entertainment Software Association)’s chief counsel of tech policy, Michael Warnecke [via GamesIndustry.biz], and follows months (if not years) of concern over loot boxes.
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Loot boxes are randomised in-game add-ons that can be purchased in a ‘crate’ using IRL money. Thanks to the randomisation some countries, including Belgium, have decreed that the mechanic is actually a form of unregulated gambling. Other countries have taken a stance on how these boxes are marketed – especially to children and younger gamers.
Although PC gamers are still free to buy what they like for their games, the new scheme will definitely make loot boxes a lot more fair on consoles.
Since the news of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo’s plans, the ESA has released a statement on the matter.
The ESA writes that many publishers, including EA and Activision, have already each agreed to the proposal, promising to disclose “relative rarity or probability of obtaining in-game virtual items from purchased loot boxes” in their own games, and assuring it’ll be done “in a manner that is understandable and easily accessed.”
The change will be implemented in the coming months, with a promise of it happening “no later than the end of 2020.”
It’s not yet clear whether the ruling will take effect outside of the US.
In a statement to Eurogamer, Nintendo said: “At Nintendo, ensuring that our customers can make informed choices when they play our games is very important,
“As part of our ongoing efforts in this area, Nintendo will require disclosure of drop rates in Nintendo Switch games that offer randomised virtual items for purchase, such as loot boxes. This requirement will apply to all new games and includes updates to current games that add loot boxes through in-game purchases.
“We also offer tools like our Nintendo Switch Parental Controls mobile app, which empowers parents to choose what works for their family, including managing in-game purchases and setting playtime limits.”
Sony also issued its own statement to Eurogamer:
“Sony Interactive Entertainment aims to ensure PlayStation users have access to information and tools, such as parental wallet controls, that will help them make informed decisions about in-game purchasing
“We support industry efforts to disclose the probability of obtaining randomised virtual items, known as loot boxes, and are committed to providing consumers with this information for all games we produce and publish.”
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony