Games News

ESRB will label all games that feature micro transactions

AltChar
A wooden crate against a blue background with AltChar logo watermark
AltChar: Loot Box

The United States Entertainment Software Ratings Board has finally updated its stance on games containing loot boxes, whereby instead of clearly labeling such games, they will simply label all games that feature micro transactions.

The Board found there is no evidence to support the claim that children are impacted by loot boxes, or that the concept makes them susceptible to gambling problems. They did concede they're not qualified to do own psychological research though, but they did say they'll keep measuring parental concerns and scientific research. 

ESRB likened the entire concept of loot boxes to baseball cards, where the element of surprise keeps the game fun and players still get something. So what, do we just drop the subject? Didn't the problem just get sinisterly bigger?

EA DICEA wooden crate against a blue background with AltChar logo watermarkStar Wars: Battlefront 2 - loot Crate

As a solution, ESRB plans to launch a website. Wow. Going all out, eh? Anyhow, The website will be called ParentalTools.org and is supposed to "raise awareness" of what their parents can do to address the time and cost "those crafty kids" spend playing.

Even the lord of double standards, Apple, found loot boxes to be a big bag of trouble, prompting the company to require devs to provide odds on winning items contained within loot boxes. Digital stores like Apple's and Google's will warn you straight up that a game contains in-game purchases, but now analog copies will have to follow as well.

AltCharA lute, a box and a loot box against a blue background Loot + Box = Loot box.

The new label will be placed next to letter ratings and apparently, it will be close to but still separate from other pointers as to the game's content, such as "Intense Violence" and "Nudity". This totally makes sense, especially when you want children to behave more like ATMs and less like children.

Bottom line is - from now on - any game with purchasable content will be labelled, where the content may be anything from bonus levels, skins, surprise items including loot boxes, music, in-game currency, subscriptions to season passes.

Meanwhile though, it seems some parts of the games' industry are thinking of trying to characterise any attempt to regulate their money-spinning ways as "censorship".

Yep, that's right. In an age where pressing the most emotional button you can find as a means of defence is somehow acceptable, the Games Developer Conference later this month has listed this event. The GDC is widely seen as the most important annual public get-together of developers, and the event is hosted by the International Game Developers Association.