All three major console manufacturers have agreed to changes to their loot box policies, according to the announcement made at a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop on loot boxes today.
Specifically, any games including loot boxes which are released on either Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo’s platform will be required to display the probability of earning items from loot boxes before you buy them. In a statement on the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) website, the ESA said:
“Several video game industry leaders are announcing new initiatives to help consumers make informed choices about their purchases, including loot boxes. The major console makers – Sony Interactive Entertainment, operator of the PlayStation platform, Microsoft, operator of Xbox and Windows, and Nintendo, operator of the Nintendo Switch gaming platform – are committing to new platform policies that will require paid loot boxes in games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items.”
They went on to confirm that the change would also apply to game updates, should any update add new loot box features into a game. While there is no exact timing for when these changes will take effect, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are all reportedly aiming to implement the policy by 2020. The ESA also confirmed that a number of major publishers have agreed to adhere to these policies by the end of 2020, including the likes of Activision Blizzard, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast.
Rounding out their blog post, the ESA said:
“We commend our members for their continued efforts to listen to their customers and provide consumers with information to make more informed choices for their gameplay. As the video game industry evolves and new features appear, we welcome an open dialogue among our community. Video games spark camaraderie and build communities that we all enjoy being a part of. We will continue to innovate and work together so that every member of our community can enjoy video games as a fun and enriching experience.”
This news comes following months and months of loot box controversy, with the whole system and practice being widely criticized as both exploitative and compared to a form of gambling which has led to it being banned in a number of countries. Personally, I don’t see this change as really addressing the problem; I can’t help but feel like all we’re really doing is putting odds on the loot boxes, which makes it even more comparable to gambling, doesn’t it?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.