Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft will require publishers to disclose the odds of earning items in loot boxes

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have committed to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) that they will soon require publishers who publish games on their platforms to disclose the odds of earning items in loot boxes for new games and updates that add loot boxes to their games.

The news comes from the Entertainment Software Association chief counsel of tech policy Michael Warnecke, who is currently talking at Federal Trade Commission’s Inside the Game workshop.

“That said, we are doing more,” Warnecke said. “ I’m pleased to announce this morning that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to 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 that are available on their platforms.

The ESA also noted as part of their statement at the Workshop that many leading publishers have agreed to also disclose the odds themselves to allow more information to be shared with the consumers.

“As well, many of the leading video game publishers of the Entertainment Software Association have decided that they are going to implement a similar approach at the publisher level to provide consumers this information and give them enhanced information to make purchase decisions.”

The ESA has maintained their stance that loot boxes should not be considered gambling. The association has said for months that they disagree with the Senators notion that loot boxes should be banned or considered gambling as players earn items regardless of purchasing it or not.

The ESA, alongside the ESRB, has updated their ratings system in the US to note which games have in-game DLC with a new “In-Game Purchases” tag on the back of the box for each of the products.

Senators in the US have been calling for hearings and investigations to understand the effect that loot boxes have on children. Thus far, no major action has been taken in the US on this issue.