Once the lootbox controversy boiled over with the release of EA's Star Wars Battlefront II, many called on the ESRB to put measures in place and for better regulation in the games industry. The ESRB did begin putting ‘in-game purchases' notices on physical game boxes but now, that will be updated to mark whether a game sells random items or not.
Announced today, the ESRB is rolling out an “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)” rating for physical copies of games. This is what the rating means in the ESRB's words:
“Contains in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency (or with virtual coins or other forms of in-game currency that can be purchased with real world currency) for which the player doesn’t know prior to purchase the specific digital goods or premiums they will be receiving (e.g., loot boxes, item packs, mystery awards).”
#ESRB will begin assigning a new Interactive Element, In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).
— ESRB (@ESRBRatings) April 13, 2020
Meanwhile, the standard “In-Game Purchases” notice is used in cases where you can partake in microtransactions, but items are not random games of chance.
According to the ESRB, this change is being introduced due to many requests to further inform customers of the difference between games that ship with randomised microtransactions and those that ship with season passes, DLC packs and other upfront pieces of content. The ESRB does not want to use the term ‘Loot Box' officially though, as it doesn't encompass all types of randomised in-game purchases available.
KitGuru Says: This is a change that should have happened a long time ago, especially after the Battlefront II backlash. Still, better late than never.