Loot boxes have dominated many headlines in the video game world this year – and are continuing to do so with two fresh news stories.
Loot box odds on consoles mandatory
Publishers that release games on consoles will be required to disclose the odds of loot boxes dropping different in-game items.
This means that games produced for the likes of Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch will now need to adhere to new policies from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo respectively, reports GamesIndustry.biz.
Publishers like Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Bungie, EA, Microsoft, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and more have agreed to the policies, as announced by Entertainment Software Association (ESA) chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke at the Federal Trade Commission’s Inside the Game workshop.
The ESA – a trade body for the video games industry in the US – says the loot box disclosure odds will affect all new games by the end of 2020.
It’s not clear whether this will just be the case for the US or worldwide at this stage.
Nintendo told Eurogamer: “As part of our ongoing efforts in this area, Nintendo will require disclosure of drop rates in Nintendo Switch games that offer randomised virtual items for purchase, such as loot boxes. We also offer tools like our Nintendo Switch Parental Controls mobile app, which empowers parents to choose what works for their family, including managing in-game purchases and setting playtime limits.”
Sony added: “We support industry efforts to disclose the probability of obtaining randomised virtual items, known as loot boxes, and are committed to providing consumers with this information for all games we produce and publish.”
Loot boxes – which can usually be bought with real money and have a chance to give the player random in-game items – have been a controversial topic for a while now.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is currently examining the growth of ‘immersive and addictive’ technologies including loot boxes in games and whether or not it constitutes as gambling.
You can check out Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco’s vlog on loot boxes and games addiction here.
Rocket League scraps Crate loot boxes
Rocket League developer Psyonix is cutting loot boxes (known as Crates) from the game.
Psyonix said in a statement on the Rocket League website: “Here at Psyonix, and Epic Games as a whole, we are dedicated to creating the best possible experience for our players all over the world. In pursuit of that goal, later this year we will remove all paid, randomized Crates from Rocket League, replacing them with a system that shows the exact items you’re buying in advance. This is similar to changes implemented earlier this year by the Fortnite Save the World team.
“Rocket Pass Premium, DLC Cars, and Esports Shop items will continue to be offered for direct purchase alongside our new system.
“We will share more information, including timelines and roll-out specifics, in the coming months.”
Publishers taking steps to address the loot box issue and allay fears from the media, parents and others is a positive move. It should encourage others in the industry to follow suit, better explain how loot boxes work, how much items actually cost and what the implications are to gamers.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.