Console Loot Boxes, that means those on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and all major brands will, from now on, require disclosure! Thus ends the long-running debate on Loot Boxes, their hidden meaning, sublime effect on the players, and overall good or bad effect on the industry. This represents a compromise all large publishers made with the FTC, which is the Federal Trade Commission and the result of their public panel dedicated to microtransactions in video games.
The announcement came from the Entertainment Software Association, which broke the news about the previously mentioned 3 big publishers who have voluntarily agreed to change their loot box policy. This certainly won’t be the end of the public panel as microtransactions are a much larger field, but this puts a stop to the debate that’s been going on for some time now. The practice became quite popular since its inception in the last 5-10 years, while the first wave of loot boxes started even back in 2004 through 2007 in many popular free-to-play online video games.
Michael Warnecke from the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) was an avid defender of the practice, though only in broadly speaking, and it was a part of the compromise that allows everyone to move forward with their games and game updates. He also made a comment about the announcement, saying that:
“Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to the ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platform. 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 available on their platforms.” – Michael Warnecke
He added that many other major publishers are also joining in on the new practice, and they include Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Bandai Namco, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Warner Bros, Bungie, Take-Two Interactive, and the beforementioned Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Of course, the disclosure agreement for loot boxes won’t take all the fun from things, as the general practice will be that from now on users will have insight into either relative rarity of the virtual items they might get, or the exact insight of the probability they might get specific virtual items.
“This approach would also be compatible with the Apple and Google approach on the mobile platform. We believe that, taken together, this provides a comprehensive approach to ensuring that consumers get the information they need so they can make informed purchasing decisions when it comes to paid loot boxes.” Warnecke added as ESA companies committed. One of the main arguments debated for a long time was the addictive nature of the gambling element in the mystery of the loot box’s reward, which is now at least avoided. And the FTC’s public panel on the topic is concluded.