Notably, The ESRB President Argued That Buying Loot Boxes Isn’t Gambling
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings to video games, announced on Tuesday that it will be issuing a new product label for physical games with loot boxes and microtransactions. The label is called “In-Game Purchases”.
“This label, or as we call it interactive element, will appear on boxes (and wherever those games can be downloaded) for all games that offer the ability to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency,” read the statement. “This includes features like 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, upgrades (e.g., to disable ads) and more.”
The statement also announced that the ESRB has launched a new website called ParentalTools.org which will inform and help parents “manage the amount of time or money” their children spend playing video games.
“The video game industry is evolving and innovating continually, as is the ESRB rating system. ESRB’s goal is to ensure that parents have the most up-to-date and comprehensive tools at their disposal to help them decide which games are appropriate for their children,” said ESRB president Patricia Vance in a statement.
“With the new In-Game Purchases interactive element coming to physical games, parents will know when a game contains offers for players to purchase additional content. Moreover, we will be expanding our efforts to educate parents about the controls currently at their disposal to manage in-game spending before their kids press ‘Start’,” Vance said.
However, Vance also defended loot boxes in a conference call with reporters earlier today, arguing that loot boxes weren’t gambling and compared them to baseball cards since “there’s an element of surprise in loot boxes”.
This is not the first time there’s been action taken against loot boxes and microtransactions in video games. Earlier this month, the state legislature of Hawaii introduced several bills aimed at preventing gamers from being exploited by such in-game purchases. A lawmaker in Hawaii’s state government who spearheaded the legislation, Chris Lee, described loot boxes as an “online casino specifically designed to lure kids into spending money.”
Also earlier this month, a U.S. lawmaker, Senator Maggie Hassan, sent a letter to Vance and the ESRB in which she asked the ESRB to look into whether marketing for loot boxes was being done “in an ethical and transparent way that adequately protects the developing minds of young children from predatory practices.”
Gamers, what do you think of this latest development against loot boxes and microtransactions? Do you think it is necessary or goes too far? Let us know in the comments!