The trade association of the video game industry in the United States, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently announced at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) public panel on microtransactions in video games in Washington that three leading console manufacturers Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have committed to requiring all publishers on their respective platforms to disclose the odds of receiving in-game content from loot boxes in all future games.
While some video game publishers already include drop rates, many have now agreed to do so in their upcoming titles by the end of 2020. These include Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Bungie, EA, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Wizards of the Coast, and Warner Bros.
“Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to the 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 available on their platforms,” said ESA’s Michael Warnecke.
Microsoft agreed, stating thus, “We believe in transparency with customers and providing them information for making their purchase decisions. This is why by 2020 all new apps or games offering ‘loot boxes’ or other mechanisms on Microsoft platforms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose to customers, prior to purchase, the odds of receiving each item. In addition, we’re proud to offer robust family settings that offer further control over in-game purchasing.”
At the same time, Nintendo highlighted that it is their priority to enable their customers to make “informed choices.” “As part of our ongoing efforts in this area, Nintendo will require disclosure of drop rates in Nintendo Switch games that offer randomized virtual items for purchase, such as loot boxes. This requirement will apply to all new games and includes updates to current games that add loot boxes through in-game purchases. We also offer tools like our Nintendo Switch Parental Controls mobile app, which empowers parents to choose what works for their family, including managing in-game purchases and setting playtime limits.”