UK Game Ratings Will Now State If A Game Has Loot Boxes
European video games rating board PEGI has confirmed that it will now specify which games contain "paid random items" on the box and on digital store listings. This term will include loot boxes, randomised card packs, and any other microtransactions with an element of chance to them.
This news comes hot on the heels of the ESRB announcement. The American ratings board confirmed recently that it would be adopting the same measure, and will be highlight any game that "Includes Random Items", if that game features purchases that have a random element to them.
PEGI has defined "paid random items" as "all in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums where players don't know exactly what they are getting prior to the purchase (e.g. loot boxes, card packs, prize wheels)". This definition will also apply to any items that can be purchased with in-game as well as real-world currency.
"In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) will be assigned to all games that include purchases with any randomised elements, including loot boxes, gacha games, item or card packs, prize wheels, treasure chests, and more," the ESRB explained in its own announcement. "Games that have the In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) notice may also include other non-randomised paid elements."
The ESRB added that it wouldn't use the words "loot box" in its description as there are consumers "less familiar" with video games who might not understand the term. No doubt PEGI has adopted similar terminology for the same reason.
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Both PEGI and the ESRB adopted the initial "in-game purchases" label back in 2018 after EA's approach to loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 came under heavy fire from critics. Now, as governments around the world continue to debate the link between loot boxes and gambling, both ratings boards have taken the step to ensure concerned consumers know what they're getting.
There have been multiple reports in recent months that argue loot boxes should be better regulated, if not outright banned in games aimed children. In a study published by the Mental Health Director of the NHS earlier this year, it was suggested that loot boxes can push younger gamers into "under the radar" gambling.
Elsewhere, Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield published a 37-page document last year, calling for greater regulation when it comes to microtransactions and loot boxes. This was based on the findings of a nine-month inquiry conducted by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and based on evidence from various developers, academics, and trade bodies.
It remains to be seen if any regulatory bodies will take further action to combat loot boxes, but this latest development seems to be a step in the direction of tighter controls and greater transparency.
Featured Image Credit: Blizzard/EA