The policy is part of an initiative by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to look at the ethics of the loot box economy.
Loot boxes are by and large one of the worst things to happen to gaming. Publishers have essentially created a gambling economy to increase their profits.
What are loot boxes?
Simplistically loot boxes are in-game content that contains random rewards and are typically purchased with in-game currency, real-world money or some combination of the two.
Up to now though game companies haven’t had to tell users what their odds were of getting potential rewards when buying these loot boxes. Players were, therefore, flying blind throwing money into a bottomless pit unaware of whether these loot boxes are worth what they paid.
Several companies have already voluntarily added odds to their loot boxes. EA, for example, currently shows the odds for their player packs when purchasing them in FIFA.
An ‘online casino’, and it’s rigged
This is certainly better than nothing but with it being reported that EA makes more money from player packs than they do from sales of the game it’s still clear that loot boxes have created an online casino and the house always wins.
Publishers will point to the fact that loot boxes allow them to make money from digital content without creating pay-to-win games.
However, games like FIFA that sell for AAA prices should not be milking players for performance-enhancing packs. League of Legends is one of a number of games that tries to strike a balance where loot boxes are used for cosmetic upgrades.
Better in-game experience for gamers
The news that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will begin to enforce the disclosure of drop rates is a positive sign that hardware manufacturers are starting to take responsibility for the in-game experience of their customers.
It appears the new rules will apply to new games from 2020 as well as any subsequent update to those games. The wording of the announcement is a little unclear as to whether the rules will apply to games already available on the various platforms.
It seems unlikely that there will be too much push back from publishers. While many of them will be worried about decreased revenue, there’s really no good argument one can make for not telling players what they’re paying for.
Instead, expect the clever guys and girls responsible for publishing your favourite games to go back to the drawing board for new ways to get their hands on your money.
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