Apple Now Requires Developers to Disclose Loot Box Odds

We previously reported on the micro-transaction and lootbox debacle in the gaming industry, which actually caught the attention of lawmakers and state officials and even has legislation proposed to prohibit the sale of said games to anyone under the age of 21. Now, Apple has changed their guidelines for developers regarding loot boxes.

The company has updated their guidelines for app developers so that should their game contain loot boxes or “other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase,” they “must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase.”

While this is a big win for consumers in the fight against loot box and gacha shenanigans, it’s unclear where the developers have to disclose this, and how often they have to disclose it.

Mobile games typically have way more loot box and gacha mechanisms than their console counterparts, so it will be interesting to see how much this is enforced.

Some mobile games (like Granblue Fantasy, pictured) are notorious for their gacha mechanics, and even run promotions where they increase odds of things dropping.

How do you feel about Apple forcing app developers to disclose the rates for loot box and gacha odds? Should console manufacturers do the same thing? Sound off in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: Featured image via AeroAero

Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • PaRaLLaXTHeTiCS

    Performance reducing lootbox items are required to be at a 1 in 3 chance.

  • ChazDragoon

    Good….and if the ESA Cabal and it’s “members” don’t fucking clean their act and start being a fair and ethical practitioner of business towards it’s customers (hell, let’s throw developers into that “treat us better” pile, EA!), then i guess the government will get to either do it better for you or ruin it.

    This isn’t rocket science…make good games. Don’t overbudget. Don’t fuck with your consumers. Don’t do shady shit. Don’t get greedy….and yet, here we are in more places than gaming.

  • grgspunk

    Just because they’re required to disclose the odds for these “games”, does not mean that they’re required to enforce them.

    Look at Granblue Fantasy and what happened last year. The devs marketed an increase in drop rate for a fan-favorite character but didn’t follow through with it. Fans spent thousands of dollars only to not get it at all.

    In order for their disclosure rules to be effective, Apple needs to inspect the algorithms behind the loot box/gacha systems and set approval standards for devs to abide by. This shit has to happen every time a change in the algorithm or probability is made.

    That’s easier said than done, considering devs constantly change this shit up. It’s easier to just ban this shit altogether.

  • If a developer fucks with their algorithms, consumers are able to report them to Apple (with evidence, of course) and they can be punished for violating ToS. Gamers are not entirely powerless, here.

  • Mr0303

    Hm, maybe Apple are preemtively covering their ass in case actual legislation is passed. With all the lootboxes in mobile games it could be a major hit if those actually become regulated. Now that at least 5 states are investigating the issue and possibly more to follow, either the industry will make a move or the government will.

  • iswear12

    But how would we know that they’re fucking their algorithms to begin with?

  • I honestly don’t know. I assume something like how someone figured out Destiny 2‘s farming manipulation would do the trick. But I’m not tech-savvy enough to know for sure.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Monkigate was the thing that forced the law to be enacted so they have to put out the drop rate. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/be59c52d9ca3cf2f23a3f630f0ef4a0e1629539d6f0ba21a7afdc077cdd0dd27.png

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    People record and broadcast their bulk draws and then people do the math.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Say what you will about the Andira scandal but that scared the living hell out of Cygames; they barely do anything annoying anymore. That censorship during the summer event was bullshit along with the terrible translation but beyond that they’ve been throwing out a ton of free stuff. Now if anyone wants a monkey loli, they can save up all the story crystals, event crystals, the give aways, and the weekly single draw card and crystals to draw her which if people are right; next year will be her return. I hope this stuff leads to MMO companies having to put out their rates too.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9744c0cca115939dce2e0416f412662893b422e50d4e31499a07f340f0a3c66a.jpg

  • orbo

    Probably this.
    A TOOOON of mobile games are reliant on gacha style shit.
    When this blows up in the rest of the states, and it will, the excuses “but we didn’t know!” and “but WE didn’t see it as gambling” isn’t going to save them.

  • grgspunk

    Are you kidding me? There is no way they’d be stupid enough make their entire loot box/gacha algorithms visible to ordinary consumers (and potential competitors).

    There needs to be an independent party to verify and approve any modifications they make. If they don’t ban this altogether, only a full and extensive audit can enable Apple to enforce their rules.

  • God, even after all these months, you are just as stupid as the last time I talked to you. Devs HAVE NO CHOICE but to disclose the odds to consumers, not JUST to Apple. What would be the point of disclosure if the consumers don’t get to see it? Of course they don’t want to do it, but Apple’s rules are final. Use your head for once.

  • grgspunk

    Reread my posts, dumbass. I was talking about their algorithms, not the probabilities.

    Even if they disclose the drop rates to everyone, there is absolutely no guarantee they’ll stick with any of it if Apple isn’t watching what the devs do with the coding/algorithms behind their lootbox and gacha systems.

  • Kakaku

    Anyone reading not get the joke? Apple recently admitted to throttling phone performance in aging phones. Its tied to the age of the battery. Not rumor or hearsay, but something Apple themselves admitted.

  • I’ll retract my misreading of algorithms with probabilities, but my original point still stands.

  • grgspunk

    What “original point”? You got riled up and miread my posts because you let our past arguments on issues that have nothing to do with this topic cloud your reading comprehension.

    Fucking imbecile.

  • VersVlees

    Yeah this is Apple stepping off the road in order not to get run over by the Gambling Commission Party Van. I can see some of the other AAA developers implementing some coloured tier system of loot box chances instead of showing actual numbers.

    Unlike EA who keeps walking on the street giving zero fucks. Keep giving zero fucks EA ill be enjoying it when the Gambling Commission Party Van runs you over hopefully backing up a few times for good measure.

  • “If a developer fucks with their algorithms, consumers are able to report
    them to Apple (with evidence, of course) and they can be punished for
    violating ToS. Gamers are not entirely powerless, here.”

    And you tell me to reread your shit.

  • Feniks

    WARNING the odds are high that you’re a stupid goy
    Download anyway? Y/N/Convert to Judaism

  • DizzyGear

    Granblue increased odds.

    Yeah from 0.2% to 0.4% on the most desirable summons/characters maybe.
    Of course you can always use sparks to choose what you want if you manage to get together 200.000 crystals and spend them all in one go because sparks will actually disappear after a short amount of time because fuck you.

    Back on topic. This is a step in the right direction.

  • DizzyGear

    I’ll trust again them if they actually revert this bullshit:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c87ecbb6c60e98238b7c89155e6e2b001d3bcedc2433070c6c91cbfd18d68bcd.jpg

    They also never undid the censorship of Shadowverse on Steam.

  • ProfessorFluffy

    Even with this requirement I don’t think people will be happy. In Japan I believe they’ve had this requirement for their mobile games for a while, and I still see people crying foul over not getting their preferred drop even when told the odds are about 0.01%.

  • grgspunk

    Yeah, you tell me how mobile “gamers” can actually get the evidence to prove if a company has fucked with their algorithms without spending thousands of dollars in IAPs to test and see if the odds are correct.

    I’ll answer it for you: You can’t. You can’t possibly tell unless you turn yourself into a goddamned whale.

    That’s why I said a full audit of the algorithms by a third party is needed, dipshit.

  • I never claimed to know how one can test whether a game is manipulating its numbers. I leave that up to people who have a better understanding of how to do this shit than you and me. A third party is not a bad idea, you just have to keep one thing to keep in mind: it already exists, and is called the Federal Trade Commission. In other words, complaints need to be filed by consumers to the FTC, who then will conduct investigations.

    If you’ve paid attention to GamerGate’s victories, you might actually know this, you fucking spastic.

  • Bassgs

    I hope apple enforces this rule, unlike steam that has “rules” that nobody gives a fuck about, not even valve

  • SuperiorBeing

    not good enough. the entire system needs to be abolished.

  • Cats736

    Probably but this is good regardless.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    You can never trust them again after they’ve censored something unless someone can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they had tried to get a new translation team back then and dropped them after the fallout.

  • DizzyGear

    I would have trusted them if they actually undid the censorship and apologized for being retards. But instead they just ignored everyone complaining about it on social media and gave canned reply’s how it was intentional to anyone complaining to them through support.

    Their loss though. I was willing to throw them some ¥’s on the starter pack but not after this. Unless they undo the censorship.

  • grgspunk

    Says the fucking Aussie that doesn’t even live in the US and hasn’t had the misfortune of dealing with the inefficiencies of US bueracracies. The FTC has existed for years and hasn’t done jack shit to counter freemium “gaming” mechanics that continue to exploit its consumers.

    Why the should it take a massive email campaign for them to act on when this sort of shit has been common knowledge for years now?

    Besides, the FTC has no technical knowledge of coding, nor does it inspect actual products and services.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    “I was willing to throw them some ¥’s on the starter pack but not after this”
    You should be thankful.

  • The FTC shut down the CS:GO gambling ring and was still destroying Gawker the last I heard. These could not happen without consumers reporting it to them. For what it’s worth, Australia has its own form of the FTC that I’ve had to call upon multiple times. Trust me, we have bureaucracies, too.

  • A Loli 42 penises

    it’s definetly a step forward

  • A Loli 42 penises

    baby steps. With this, people will be more conscious of Lootboxes, and when the legislation for having games with Lootboxes forbidden for people under 21, it will be a death sentence to this practice (since it would bump the game rating to “AO” and consoles don’t accept AO games)

  • grgspunk

    Yet the FTC still hasn’t done jack shit about the freemium “gaming” market in general and its exploitation of its consumers.

    You put way too much faith in these government organizations.

  • File complaints to the FTC, and they’ll probably do something about it.

    And hey, you’re the one calling for banning this shit. And you accuse me of having too much faith in the government.

  • grgspunk

    You seem to be under the impression that I consider freemium-based gachas and lootboxes as an acceptable form of “gaming”.

  • I’m not. You’ve made it clear you want the government to ban it. No different from your stance on fujoshi games.

  • grgspunk

    That’s right. It’s about the suppression and deterrence of fuckers that threaten the shit you hold dear by embracing a “toxic” market/community that is relentlessly hostile to their bullshit.

    In this case, it’s about throwing the mobile “gaming” market and its supporters into the funeral pyre for normalizing pay-2-win monetization schems and destroying the handheld market in the process.

    In this instance, might actually see some sort of legislative action that could make this a reality. I’m stoked.

  • ExplodingPrinny

    Stating a percentage for each obtainable item will be enough to satisfy Apple.

    You KNOW they won’t check those algorithms. Too many games to be bothered.

  • grgspunk

    Tell me something I don’t know. That’s why I’m hoping thise proposed laws in Hawaii and Belgium actually get passed.