Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo to Force Loot Box Probability Disclosures in New Games

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) today revealed a new policy from the console manufacturers.

The Federal Trade Commission’s highly anticipated ‘Inside the Game’ workshop took place today. The primary goal of the workshop was to tackle the issue of microtransactions in games, specifically loot boxes. While the ESA didn’t announce any changes to their rating system, they did reveal that the console manufactures are taking action.

Specifically, ESA chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke told the FTC that Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are working on new policies. The policies would require all new games to disclose loot box odds on their consoles. This policy affects new games, and includes games that add loot boxes post-launch.

“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.”

Loot boxes hit a breaking point in 2017 following the release of three high-profile games. While Destiny 2 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War took a lot of criticism, it was Star Wars Battlefront II that changed everything. With all aspects of the game’s progression system tied to loot boxes, the game opened worldwide investigations into loot boxes. Most publishers have since shied away from Loot Boxes and instead focus on up-front-microtransactions. However, some, including Activision and EA, continue to implement the practice.

We’ll keep you updated should anymore news come out of workshop. No word yet on when these new policies go into effect.