The Entertainment Software Association has confirmed that Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are working together on a new policy that will require all games that appear on their platforms to disclose their loot box odds.
“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,” said ESA Chief Counsel of Tech Policy, Michael Warnecke. “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.”
The idea behind this initiative seems pretty clear. The nature of loot boxes means that anyone who purchases them can’t be sure of exactly what items they contain. Often times, items you can get from a loot box are divided into rarity tiers. The rarer the item, the less chance you have of receiving that item in your loot box. This is why many people will purchase many loot boxes in the hopes of acquiring the rarest items.
What’s less clear is how Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft intend to implement this policy. The reference to “new games and game updates” would suggest that there might be some kind of grandfather policy which would exclude certain existing games from having to disclose that information. However, the details of this plan have not been confirmed at this time.
What’s also up for debate is how much of an effect this will have on the loot box industry. Disclosing odds may prevent some people from spending more on loot boxes if they know how slim the odds of receiving a specific item are, but the problem with loot boxes in the eyes of many is that they’re designed to prevent players from directly purchasing the items they want and thus saving money on the loot box opening process.
On top of that, you’ve got companies like EA rallying to keep loot boxes alive and even going so far as to refer to them as surprise mechanics. This initiative is a step in the right direction, but we’ve still got a long way to go in the battle against loot boxes and predatory microtransactions.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.
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