ESRB to Introduce Loot Box Warning Labels to Games

/ 2 years ago
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Loot boxes within games have been a contentious subject for many years now. They are so contentious in fact that Belgium recently introduced a law banning them entirely. What’s the problem, though? Well, opinions are divided as to whether they are a form of gambling or not. Put simply, many games developers say they are not, pretty much everyone else says they are! Worst of all, governments can’t seem to make up their minds!

It even led to the amazingly hilarious statement from EA that loot boxes were not gambling, they were instead ‘ethical surprise mechanics’.

In a report via PCGamesN, however, it seems that the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) is willing to take things a step further in their rating system.

ESRB to Introduce New Ratings System

Following a post on their Twitter account, the ESRB has confirmed that their game labels (usually restricted to age guidelines) were recently modified to note the inclusion of loot boxes. They will now, however, be changed even further to also include a disclaimer as to whether the game contains purchasable loot boxes. The ESRB has said that this will specifically be denoted by “includes random items”.

In announcing the change, the ESRB has said:

“‘Includes random items’ will be assigned to all games that include purchases with any randomized elements. [This includes] loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more. Games that have the in-game purchases (includes random items) notice may also include other non-randomized paid elements.”

What Do We Think?

While the ESRB seems clearly willing to act, the biggest problem is that (other than Belgium and to a lesser extent Holland) governments around the world can’t seem to decide if they are, strictly speaking, gambling or not. As above, we think they are, but sadly our opinion hasn’t yet been solicited in this matter.

So, on the plus side, as a consumer, you should shortly be able to find out directly from the packaging if a game includes ‘random’ in-game purchases. Whether that’ll stop you buying it or not though, is still entirely up to you!

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

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