Today, The Entertainment Software Association revealed that Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Microsoft are all working on new policies that will require publishers and developers to disclose loot box odds on their systems for every game. The news comes way of the ESA's chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke, who shared the announcement this morning at the Federal Trade Commission's Inside the Game workshop.
"I'm pleased to announce this morning that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platform," said Warnecke. "Specifically, this would apply to new games and game updates that add loot box features. And it would require the disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomized virtual items in games that are available on their platforms."
"As well, many of the leading video game publishers of the Entertainment Software Association have decided that they are going to implement a similar approach at the publisher level to provide consumers this information and give them enhanced information to make purchase decisions."
At the moment of publishing, it's unclear what other publishers are already on board, but if Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are enforcing it on a console level, then any publisher who puts their games on these systems will need to divulge the odds.
Of course, this news comes on the back of increased public pressure to make adjustments to loot boxes, and comes on the back of multiple governments declaring loot boxes as gambling and illegal. In other words, government intervention is likely the big driving force of this widespread policy change.
The aforementioned parties have all agreed to implement the new loot box policy by the end of 2020. So, you may not see it fully in fruition for awhile, but it's coming. As you will know, Google Play already implemented these changes earlier this year. Meanwhile, iOS games have been doing this since 2017. So, PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox, and the rest of the industry are a bit late, but better late than never.
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