The Entertainment Software Ratings Board has been a staple on game covers since 1994 and assigns ratings based on the intended game’s content. As such, parents can read about a game and decide whether it’s meant for their child. Today, the ESRB has revealed a new rating that displays if a game includes loot boxes.
#ESRB will begin assigning a new Interactive Element, In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).
— ESRB (@ESRBRatings) April 13, 2020
The way things have been since 2018 is the ESRB notes whether or not a game includes “in-game purchases”, however, they want to reword the description to better phrase whether a game “includes random items.” This allows parents to better understand if a game their child wants offers loot boxes, which has become a major concern over the last few years.
From the blog post:
In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) will be assigned to all games that include purchases with any randomized elements, including loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more. Games that have the In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) notice may also include other non-randomized paid elements.
The ESRB also notes that the data from parents helped to inform the introduction of the “in-game purchases” notice, and feedback from that shifted to include whether or not a game comes with “includes random items,” which has helped parents make informed decisions.
On the heels of worldwide government bodies probing game studios and investors on loot boxes, we’ve seen these same studios shift away from in-game gambling to battle passes and season passes. Belgium has banned loot boxes, the UK wants to regulate them and China has told publishers to release draw probability of all virtual items and services.