The Entertainment Software Association has confirmed Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft will require game developers to disclose the winning odds for loot boxes on their respective platforms.
ESA chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke announced the news this morning (via Gamesindustry.biz) at the Federal Trade Commission, who hosted an “Inside the Game” workshop to help encourage discussion on the loot box issue – which is gaining bipartisan support for regulation.
“That said, we are doing more,” Warnecke said. “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. 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.
“As well, many of the leading video game publishers of the Entertainment Software Association have decided that they are going to implement a similar approach at the publisher level to provide consumers this information and give them enhanced information to make purchase decisions.”
Warnecke’s comments came after discussing the industry’s attempts at tackling the loot box issue, like an in-game purchases label on retail boxes, and platform-level restrictions on spending for game consoles and even PC storefronts like Electronic Arts’ Origin platform.
The ESA is targeting 2020 for the implementation of the new policy, which means all games released for Sony, Nintendo, or Microsoft platforms will have to fully disclose the loot box odds ratio after that point. A list of various company’s pledging support for the new policy has already been confirmed, including: Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast.
There are a number of ESA member companies and publishers that haven’t yet made the pledge, including: 505 Games, Capcom, CI Games, Deep Silver, Disney Interactive Studios, Epic Games, Focus Home Interactive, Gearbox Publishing, GungHo, Intellivision Entertainment, Kalypso, Konami, Magic Leap, NCsoft, Natsume, Nexon, Rebellion, Riot Games, Sega, Square Enix, THQ Nordic, Tencent, and Marvelous.
We’ll keep you guys posted. How do you feel about loot boxes? Should they still exist? If the odds of winning are disclosed across the board, are they somewhat more tolerable? Sound off in the comments below!