According to a new letter on the Entertainment Software Association’s website, the company claims that sometime around 2020 Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), Microsoft, and Nintendo are committing to new platform policies that will require “paid loot-boxes” in games (on said platforms) to disclose information on the probability of obtaining randomized virtual items.
The ESA has been wrapped up in controversy as of recent with one of the many cases being the negligence of showing over 2,000 content creators and journalist credentials to millions of people for months, and the act of sending out lobbyist to Hawaii back in 2018 to defend the disclosure of loot-box odds:
A year later, the ESA and its lobbyist pulled a 180 as if they were BMX masters after attending a workshop meeting with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and are now disclosing on theesa.com that the big three will show odds for paid loot-boxes around 2020:
“[…] 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. These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features. The precise timing of this disclosure requirement is still being worked out, but the console makers are targeting 2020 for the implementation of the policy.”
Furthermore, the letter explains how Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive, and Wizards of the Coast will join in sometime late 2020:
“In addition, several of ESA’s publisher members already disclose the relative rarity or probability of obtaining in-game virtual items from purchased loot boxes, and other major publishers have agreed to do so no later than the end of 2020. Together, these publishers include Activision Blizzard, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast. Many other ESA members are considering a disclosure. The disclosure will apply to all new games and updates to games that add such in-game purchases and will be presented in a manner that is understandable and easily accessed.”
YouTubers are already chiming in on this new measure, with pundits like TheQuartering offering their take on how this could affect the industry moving forward.
With all of that said, this policy change will not alter the fact that most games like Fortnite also have microtransactions which are different from paid loot-boxes. These microtransactions have ridiculous base prices of $9.99 up to $99.99 as per Fortnite’s V-Bucks pricing via playstation.com and microsoft.com, and raked-in $2.4 billion from microtransactions according to website telegraph.co.uk.
In other words, while paid loot-boxes may have their odds shown and may deter a percentage of people, the option to buy cut-content like skins and emotes that rival DLCs, half-priced games, and full-priced triple-A games in price will remain unscathed by this policy.
Anyway, if the ESA words are anything to go by this initiative will kick-off sometime in 2020.
(Thanks for the news tip MaverickHL)