The Entertainment Software Ratings Boards (ESRB), has announced a new ratings label designation for games with loot boxes and other randomized items that can be purchased without leaving the game. Physical copies of games that include loot boxes, treasure chests, card packs, and other types of micro-transactions will now receive a physical label that reads “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).”
You can check out the new label below.
“This new Interactive Element, In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items), will be assigned to any game that contains in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency (or with virtual coins or other forms of in-game currency that can be purchases with real world currency) for which the player doesn’t know prior to purchase the specific digital goods or premiums they will be receiving (e.g., loot boxes, item packs, mystery awards),” the ESRB said in their announcement.
The ESRB began assigning the label “In-Game Purchases” to games that qualified back in 2018 as a response to growing public outcry from parents and government officials over the predatory tactics geared towards children that are often employed by companies that offer in-game purchases. Last year Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, which called for a broad ban on loot boxes and pay-to-win micro-transactions, especially on games that were aimed at children under the age of 18. Belgium has made loot boxes illegal across the board.
Within the past few years a number of games such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Call of Duty: WWII, Fornite, Overwatch, and Star Wars Battlefront 2 have received high profile media attention for their in-game purchases. Within the gaming community loot boxes are on of the most hot button issues, with social media campaigns often being organized against games that support pay-to-win mechanics.