ESRB will soon start labeling games with In-Game Purchases


27, 2018

Coming off the tail end of months of controversy surrounding loot boxes in video games after the release of Star Wars Battlefront II, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has announced that they will add a new label to games containing in-game purchases. Though at first glance it appears to be a step in the right direction, this new label will essentially mean nothing to most gamers because it applies to nearly every video game out there (via Kotaku)

Instead of focusing on loot boxes that have random odds at generating items the player may be attempting to obtain, the ESRB is going after all in-game purchases, which as it states refers to “bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads).”

It doesn’t specifically apply to just loot boxes and it isn’t meant to take aim at these predatory practices as some players call them. According to the parameters listed in the announcement, this label will adorn almost every modern video game going forward because nearly all of them contain in-game purchases of some sort, whether they be DLC packages or skins.

ESRB president Patricia Vance said that this new label is designed to help inform parents what they are buying for their children. “Parents need simple information,” Vance said. “We can’t overwhelm them with a lot of detail… We have not found that parents are differentiating between these different mechanics.”

“I’m sure you’re all asking why aren’t we doing something more specific to loot boxes,” she continued. “We’ve done a lot of research over the past several weeks and months, particularly among parents. What we’ve learned is that a large majority of parents don’t know what a loot box is. Even those who claim they do, don’t really understand what a loot box is. So it’s very important for us to not harp on loot boxes per se, to make sure that we’re capturing loot boxes, but also other in-game transactions.”

It was not revealed when the new labeling will go into effect.

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