Loot boxes have been such a hot topic in the last year, government officials have been sounding off on intervening. The ESRB announced their plan this week to protect consumers with a new policy to quell the controversy.
In an effort to fill up more space on video game box art than sleeves at a tattoo shop, the Entertainment Software Rating Board added an “In-Game Purchases” tag to signify the titles that have purchasable content.
The new label will “be applied to games with in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real-world currency,” the ESRB said in a news release, “including but not limited 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).”
The whole reason the ESRB was created in 1994 was to avoid government interference in the game industry. This self-regulatory board gives different ratings to games based on content. There is E for everyone, T for Teen M, for Mature and AO for people that sell games from their trunks.
The government is like the parent in this situation telling the games industry to fix their grades on their own. Because they won’t like what they come up if they become involved.
The guideline for what game boxes will have this is broad. This is due to the reason many games have some type of in-game mechanic to buy addition conditional. An “exploitative mechanics” label may not have sat well with publishers and this might be the middle ground.
In the same announcement, the ESRB also launched ParentalTools.org, a website aiding parents to curate what their kids play and do. The site includes tips on how to set up parental locks on all major consoles from PS4 to Xbox and even the PSP. Although, whoever is playing a PSP in 2018 is a grown-ass adult or a parent trying to pull this on their kid.
These guides cover aspects such as creating spending limits, play time caps and blocking access to certain rated games. Parents can shield their kids from games ranging from the high violence in the M-rated Grand Theft Auto V or frinedly E-rated Knack.
A New Day or Groundhog Day
It is interesting to note that in-game purchases have been a thing on consoles for over a decade. But this new policy only comes about after 2017’s loot box mania.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 garnered a lot of negative attention last fall for their loot box system. Destiny 2 has been sitting on store shelves like it has the plague, having frequent sales to pull in someone like a Venus flytrap. These lower sales could be due to the mechanics that push players toward spending money in order to avoid grinding.
All consumers can really do is vote with their wallets. That speaks louder to developers than putting a generic label on their box.
The new label doesn’t do much to point out which games are using shady “In-Game Purchases” or stop it. It is just there like a mole. Loot boxes don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon, so gamers can continue praying to RN Jesus for a sweet drop.
Do you think this enough from the ESRB? What do you want to see done next? Tell us in the comments!