The ESRB is adding a new Interactive Element that will notify consumers when a game includes in-game purchases with random rewards like loot boxes.
Announced today, the ESRB is adding a new Interactive Element called “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).”
Similar to the “In-Game Purchases” Interactive Element, this is meant to inform consumers of the game they are purchasing includes digital goods and premiums that can be purchased with real-world currency. The difference is the In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items) notice pertains to in-game purchases where the player doesn’t know what exactly what they are purchasing. Essentially, it’s to notify consumers that loot boxes, item packs, or other mystery rewards are featured in the game.
In the ESRB‘s blog post about the new Interactive Element, they explain the reasoning behind adding the new notification:
According to research, parents are far more concerned about their child’s ability to spend real money in games than the fact that those in-game purchases may be randomized. This data helped to inform the introduction of the In-Game Purchases Interactive Element. That being said, since adding the In-Game Purchases notice to ratings assigned to physical games many game consumers and enthusiasts (not necessarily parents) have reached out to us asking the ESRB to include additional information to identify games that include randomized purchases.
So, why didn’t the ESRB use the term “Loot Boxes” in the new Interactive Element notification? The post explains that the term does not necessarily pertain to all in-game purchases. The company wants to make sure its label informs the consumer that any in-game purchase that offers random items is included. Additionally, it is to avoid any confusion if a consumer doesn’t know what a loot box is.
Interactive Elements were introduced in April 2018; they are interactive and online features that may concern consumers. In-Game Purchases, Users Interact, Shares Location, and Unrestricted Internet are all features that are within this category. Additionally, online music is that is streamed or downloaded as add-ons for music-based games are not rated by the ESRB. This notification is displayed under the actual ESRB rating.